If you’re reading this blog post, congratulations. Congrats because you are now one of the few people who is even aware that on April 22, 2017, the FCC will be releasing new 833 toll free numbers (subject to change).
Why is this significant? Because it’s your last best chance to get a good vanity number in this decade.
For those of you not in the loop, here’s what’s happening and why it’s a rare opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners to get a custom toll free number.
Somos is the entity that manages the inventory of available toll free telephone numbers and doles out 800 numbers to telecom companies like UniTel Voice.
In response to the dwindling supply, the FCC authorizes Somos to replenish its inventory by releasing a new toll free number prefix (or area code to be more precise). Since the prefixes 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, and 844 have already been released, next up is 833.
Trying to get a good vanity number is like trying to get a good domain name. If you’ve ever tried to find a domain for your business, you know how frustrating it can be. In almost every case, the perfect domain name has been snapped up by someone else.
The recent Squarespace ad with John Malkovich trying to get JohnMalkovich.com hilariously summed up this experience.
When it comes to domains and toll free numbers, we are all John Malkovich.
The truth is it’s even harder to find a vanity number because there are fewer options available and there’s no auction system set up for toll free numbers like there is for hard to get URLs.
There is however, one little quirk about the toll free industry that opens up a brief window-of-opportunity for businesses to get their dream vanity number (e.g., 833-FLOWERS, 833-CARLOAN, 833-ABCEDFG etc.). And that’s what is happening now with the release of the new toll free prefix 833 scheduled on April, 22nd 2017.
Note: This date could and likely will change. We learned at this year’s Somos Toll Free Summit (yes, the toll free industry has its own conference, and yes, it gets pretty wild) that the 833 release date has already changed once and almost every previous toll free prefix release date in the past has changed.
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When the FCC first releases a new toll free number they allow phone companies to secure only 100 numbers per day on a first-come, first-serve basis. This slow trickle lasts weeks before the numbers are opened up for normal registration.
It’s during this early registration period that you have a golden opportunity to secure a great vanity 833 number. Some phone companies, such as UniTel Voice, will allow you to pre-order 833 numbers and place a bid on your place in line.
After the first few days, weeks, and months go-by, your odds of getting a great custom vanity number significantly diminishes and you’ll have to wait another 3-5 years (or longer) for the 822 toll free numbers to be released.
Unfortunately, local numbers don’t work like this, only toll free numbers. So if you run your own company or if you’re thinking about starting one, don’t miss your opportunity to snap up the perfect business number.
Your company’s phone number is still one of the most important sales and marketing assets you can own. Having an easy to remember number that reinforces your brand can set you apart from your competition and help you grow your business.
In fact, it’s very likely your competitors don’t even know about this rare opportunity to get a great vanity toll free number and they’ll have to wait until the next decade.
Sorry. You snooze, you loose.