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How Do I Generate a CSR for My Phone Number? [FAQ]

by Kevin Bartley

Need to generate a CSR for your business phone number? CSRs and phone number porting explained.

A Customer Service Record (CSR) contains important information about your phone number. This information is primarily used to port your phone number from one phone service to another. Your old phone service and new phone service will reference the CSR for technical details so they can ensure a smooth transfer of your phone number.

There are three players when you port a phone number: your old provider, new provider, and the Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC), a government agency. In order for all three to work harmoniously, they need a common road map of sorts. The CSR is that road map.

What information does a CSR contain?

A CSR generally contains important account information, such as:

  1. Authorizing name - The person in charge of the account (admin on the account)
  2. Business name - The name of your business
  3. Account type - Business or residential
  4. Service address - The physical location you make calls from
  5. Billing telephone number (BTN) - The primary 10 digit phone number that references how the account is billed and set up
  6. Current service provider name - The name of the phone company you're porting the number from
  7. Current service provider account number - Your account number at the phone company you're porting from

This is the data both phone companies will need to engage in a successful phone number transfer. If you have phone numbers associated with more than one underlying carrier, multiple CSRs may be required.

How do I generate a CSR?

All phone companies have protocols for generating CSRs. Many service providers have services on their websites that allow you to automatically send, request, or print CSRs. This service is typically found within the admin user interface, or on a standalone webpage. Searching "CSR" along the name of your phone provider will usually lead you to a page with information on how to generate a CSR.

Your old service provider is required to send a copy of the CSR to your new service provider once you've initiated the porting process. In some cases, simply taking a screenshot of your phone number's technical information is enough. Speak to your new providers about what information they're expecting on the CSR.

If you're still having issues generating a CSR, contact your old provider's Support Team directly. They probably have a dedicated Porting Team that you can speak to. Ask them what steps you need to take to generate a CSR. The FCC mandates portability for all phone numbers in the United States, so your phone company should have a standard practice for generating CSRs in place.

What other information will I need to port my phone number, besides a CSR?

The Letter of Authorization (LOA) is a document you'll sign to initiate the porting process. The new provider will send you a LOA for your review and signature. This gives your new service provider permission to act on your behalf. Some providers may also ask you for a copy of a recent phone bill.

What types of phone numbers can I port to a hosted VoIP service?

You can port any registered number over to your VoIP service, including landline numbers. CSRs can be generated by landline companies and VoIP companies alike, and it's actually a key way they communicate with each other. Again, the FCC requires portability for all US phone numbers.

You can also port toll free and vanity numbers, along with wireless and cellular numbers, over to your new service. These numbers fall under the same FCC guidelines. The process of porting toll free and vanity numbers is very similar to porting local numbers.

OnSIP sample CSR
Sample CSR (click to enlarge)

How long does it take to process a CSR?

Processing a CSR has no set timeframe. It takes little time to generate a CSR, but employees at the phone company have to process the forms manually.

Generating/processing a CSR is just one part in the porting process. Even after the CSR has been processed, the NPAC still has to authorize/activate the ported number. It's probably better to consider the timeframe of the porting process as a whole instead of focusing on the CSR itself.

How long does the entire porting process take?

The porting process varies from provider to provider. But with all the parties involved, you can probably expect to wait 2 - 4 weeks until a port is complete, although it's more than possible to wait longer. The CSR is essentially what kicks off the whole process.

Ask your new provider for an estimate of how long it will take to port your number. This will give you a general ballpark range, along with something to hold the provider to. In some cases, if all goes well, you could have your number ported in ten days or less.

How can I speed along the CSR process?

The best thing you can do to speed along the porting process is to make sure that all the information is fully accurate before you send it out. Typos, mixed up addresses between billing and service locations, and other errors can undermine the porting effort tremendously. An inaccurate piece of data essentially restarts the entire porting process, and will require you to fill out additional paperwork.

Will I have to keep my old provider until the transfer?

Yes. You should not cancel your old phone service until your number is ported to your new phone service. Expect to keep the account alive for another month before your number is fully transferred over the new service. This ensures a smooth phone number transfer, and avoids service disruptions.

In most cases, your new phone provider can set up a temporary number for your account while you're in the process of transferring. You can then forward calls from your old number to this new number, for the time being, until your old number has been completely ported over.

CSR Demystified

The CSR is a small, but consequential, document that allows service providers to complete phone number ports. Ultimately, the information is just one piece of the puzzle in the migration process to a new provider.

Typically CSRs are easy to generate and share. The hard part is getting the bureaucracies of two phone companies and a government agency to move along speedily. But with all the set protocols, obtaining the CSR itself shouldn't give you too many headaches.

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