On Monday November 1, 2021 the FCC opened up the Reassigned Numbers Database to users. This database is an attempt to reduce the number of unwanted calls that people receive – by avoiding those unwanted calls that result from a number being disconnected and then reassigned.
The basic idea is simple.
- Every month, service providers will provide a list of numbers that have been disconnected during that month.
- Organizations that make large numbers of calls (to people who have given permission to be called) can pay to subscribe to this database.
- These bulk callers can then query the database to find out if any of the numbers they call have recently been disconnected (since they last checked). If a number has been disconnected, they can delete it from their list of numbers to call.
- As a result, people who just got a new phone number should receive fewer calls for the previous owner of the number.
Pros and Cons of the Database
Hopefully this new system will be beneficial to those who recently got a new phone number, but unfortunately it does impose some costs on both service providers and the callers.
- Service providers have a new obligation to upload their disconnects to the database every month. I imagine this responsibility will typically fall on the billing/administrative side of the organization rather than technical operations – and hopefully they can find ways to handle this efficiently so it doesn’t waste much time.
- Bulk callers have to pay (see pricing here) to access the database, and then obviously there’s some overhead in the process of pruning their lists. On the other hand, maybe they save time by avoiding unwanted calls, and they also have a legal defense against some complaints under the Telephone Consumers Protection Act (TCPA).
Service providers with fewer than 100K subscribers (most of you reading this) had to make their initial submission by October 15, 2021, and will need to update the database with any new disconnects on the 15th of each subsequent month.
For more information, check out the Reassigned Numbers Database website.