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Phone Number Identification - Is it a landline, a cell phone or Voip?

Updated on February 6, 2013

Suppose you have a list of names, phone numbers and other data in your company database. You're tasked with identifying the data and parsing it into actionable fields so your marketing department can use the data effectively.

Many companies also need to implement a system which can help them comply with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Report and Order under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) which imposed new restrictions on autodialed and prerecorded calls (robocalls).

If you fall into one of the above categories you definitely need a solution to properly identify phone numbers. One possible solution is a phone list cleaning or appending service. This is useful for any business or organization that either calls consumers or wants to ensure the phone numbers in their database are properly coded as land lines, cell phones or VoIP lines.

If a company needs to identify phone numbers in order to comply with federal laws and utilizes call lists or auto-dials users, an updated and accurate phone list is essential. This also ensures compliance with laws that regulate calls to cell phones from creditors, debt collectors and telemarketers. Although you may not need a reason to comply with FCC regulations, it's important to note the other benefits to an updated database.

While there are many ways to organize phone numbers and consumer data on your own, this can be a time consuming process. If you are researching services to help you automated these tasks an online service may help determine how you move forward. An example of an efficient service may offer the following steps:

  • Decide how many phone numbers you have to identity. If you have less than a few thousand, it may be fairly easy to complete yourself, however there are services that allow you to simply copy and paste a list of phone numbers into an online form and receive an appended listed in minutes. If you have more than 10,000, you may need to upload a file that you have saved on your computer.

Converting Excel to csv or txt files

Typically a csv or text file would be requred if the file had a lot of numbers and you needed to upload it. While you might export your data from a database into an Excel spreadsheet, you will most likely need to convert the information to a text or CSV file before uploading for file processing. See the video to the right for simple instructions if you need help with that step.

  • Note that some services may determine what types of results you receive. Be sure you read about the service and check out the returned or appended fields prior to processing your data file.

  • One thing to watch for is the data to be appended to your file are the correct fields you need. The most common fields appended to your file and included in your results might include: the phone type (landline (wired line), cell phone (wireless), or VoIP); Operating Company Number (OCN); originating carrier name; and Rate Center (general location including city and stater).

Some questions you might ask include:

  • Where does this information come from?
  • Can you trust that it is reliable?
  • How often is the data updated?
  • Is only the area code and prefix verified or does it include the thousand block?

The best information sources should include but should not be limited to the North American Numbering Plan Administration and the Canadian Numbering Administrator. If the sources include this information and it is updated at least monthly, you can expect it to be reliable. Checking the area code and prefix are okay, but will not be as reliable as going further and checking the thousand block as well as including other sources to make the data even more accurate.

What does it Cost to do it yourself manually vs an automated service?

To calculate this answer you're going to need to know your internal costs and what your internal resources are for doing this project. You may have free lookup tools available and can do the job on a one-by-one basis which just might be cost prohibitive.

While an online automated service is typically not free, they shouldn't cost a fortune either. The biggest benefit is the time saving, and the price tag for saving hours, days and maybe even weeks could be priceless.

Costs are typically broken down based on the number of phone numbers in your list. For example, some services simply charge a flat rate of approximately a penny per number. Others have a tiered structure getting cheaper as the volume increases. If you have a monthly need some services offer monthly subscriptions.

What can you get?

With a high quality phone list cleaning tool you should be able to identify if a phone number is a landline, cell phone, VoIP line or if the number is unknown (invalid area code, prefix, or bogus number). While this won't tell you if the number is active or disconnected, knowing the type of line can be a huge advantage for verification, regulations and marketing instances.


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