What is a Phone Number Lookup and What Triggers One?
When you send a text message to one of your customers or users TextPower tries to make it as simple as possible. You send it to us and we do the rest. So what is a Phone Number Lookup?
In reality, though, it’s not simple at all as there are many steps along the way. One of the key pieces of information required is knowing which carrier (AT&T, Verizon Wireless, etc.) provides the service for that number so that we can properly route the message to that carrier. Without it there’s no way for the message to reach its destination.
What is a phone number lookup?
There are essentially two ways for TextPower to obtain the carrier to which that number is assigned. If the user sends a text message to us with a keyword, for example, the carrier information is included in the contents of the message. We capture that information and store it in our own database (technically called a “cache”) so that when you later tell us to send a message to that number we have the information.
If, on the other hand, you upload a list of numbers using, say our Communications Assurance Program (CAP) that facilitates an expedited means of getting tens of thousands of numbers in the database for your exclusive access, those numbers will not have the carrier information associated with them and so they will have to go through a “lookup” process.
Virtually all of the cellular phone companies in the country participate in what is known as the National Cellular Database. Even most rural cellular carriers and Google Voice numbers are available through this database. This centralized and master compilation contains not only the number for every cell phone, it also has the information about which carrier services it. The phone number lookup process accesses this database and retrieves the carrier information. At that point the information is stored in the cache and used in the same way that it is used when the information is obtained by the mobile user sending a text to our system.
There are a few occasions when, even though a mobile number is already in our cache – and there are literally millions in our cache – the carrier to which it is assigned is either incorrect or must be changed. The most common reason is that someone changes their service from, say, Verizon Wireless to AT&T, and so that routing information must be changed.
TextPower has a unique, proprietary process that assures delivery of messages; when we receive an error code telling us that the carrier for a particular number is incorrect we perform a lookup and then, when we have obtained the correct carrier information for that number, resend it. This assures delivery of messages in a way that no other company can.
A phone number lookup costs money and so we are compelled to charge for them when they must be performed. The good news for TextPower’s customers is that, as the result of our own massive cache of numbers – which is always checked first before performing a lookup – the instances where a phone number lookup is required is vastly reduced when compared to other company’s systems. Furthermore, the very small charge of $0.01/lookup when needed assures that your message is getting delivered.
And isn’t that what you want when you send a message in the first place?
Today I want to talk to you about phone number lookup. Not the kind of look up where you look up but rather a lookup where you would normally lookup an address, or phone number or you look something up on a map.
TextPower actually uses a process called Lookups for some very specific reasons.
When you tell us to send a message to a mobile number, we of course want to make sure that the message is delivered to the person to whom it’s intended.
So, what we have to do is, we have to know which carrier, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, which one of those carriers, and there are dozens of carriers, which one is that number actually assigned to.
Well there are couple different ways that we can find out that information.
The first way, and the most accurate way is, if someone texts your keyword into our system, when we get that message, we know who it’s bound for, because it’s got your keyword in it, we know the mobile number, because we trap that number when the message arrives from that mobile phone,from that number, and we also know which carrier it is, because that information is sent to us, by the carrier, in that string of characters that we get, in this very complicated looking message text that we get. There is a lot of headers and footers, and all kinds of technical information in there. But the key point is that, if someone sends a message to us from their phone, we have all the necessary information.
Now, what happens if, you upload the phone numbers or list of phone numbers using for example, TextPower’s Communication Assurance Program, what we call the C A P, or CAP for short? When you upload that list of numbers, we actually have to make a determination as to which carrier is servicing those numbers.
There is a National Cellular Database that we have permission to use and we actually reach out to that database and we access the database and we lookup, and that’s where the word comes from a ‘lookup’, we lookup that number and then we get the information that says, this phone number is assigned to Verizon, AT&T or whoever it may be, and we then take that information and we store it in our own separate database called Cash, in computer terms; so that the next time a message is sent to that number, we don’t have to go look that up, we actually can find it in our Cash and we can save both the time and save our customer’s the expense of having to look up that number using the National Cellular Database.
Now there are times, when someone will move from one carrier to the other.
You know that this happens, you might want to take your business from AT&T and go to Verizon, or vice versa. So, when the message is sent to that carrier, the next time after you have changed your carrier for your cellular plan and an error is sent back to us by the original carrier, the old one that used to have your service, when we get that error, it’s a very particular kind of error. So we trap that error, we recognize it, as meaning that, the number has been ported or taken to a different carrier and we then go out to the National Cellular Database again, we look it up and then we store the new information in the Cash. And that gives us the correct carrier for that number, so that the next time there is a message to be sent to that number, we’ve got it.
Now, one final note here, something that TextPower does that no their company does, there is a law called Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which states that you can’t call people with telemarketing calls and so on, and some of it actually applies to text messaging as well.
TextPower protects its customers from violating that TCPA regulation or law.
What we do is, we actually get lists from the carriers every night and during the course of an average month, we might look up as many as 50 million numbers, and if a number shows up on a list that a carrier has sent to us of a disconnected mobile number, we take that number out of our Cash, we also remove it, from all lists that it may have been opted into, so that, if by accident, one of our should attempt to send a message to that number, it won’t get sent. And this gives our customers the assurance of being able to send text messages to large groups or large groups of numbers without worrying about violating the TCPA act.
So it all gets around, it’s all involved around this whole phone number lookup process, the way that we store all of these numbers in our Cash, and when we actually go to the National Cellular Database to lookup another number.
And that’s what a phone number lookup is all about.