Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Regulators have roles to play for successful Number Portability

Telecommunications regulators and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), precisely have roles to play in ensuring the successful implementation of proposed national Number Portability in the country.

National number portability or plan allows a country to efficiently manage this valuable but limited asset and impacts on numbering direction, the productivity and competitiveness in the telecom sector.

Making this charge recently in Lagos at a four-day workshop on Number Portability and Convergence, the Vice President, Sales and Alliances, Interconnection Solutions, at Telcodia for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Mr. Thomas Mazzone, said that telecommunications regulators like NCC have lots of role to play in making the dream of enthroning Number Portability a success in any environment.

“Regulators have to play a vital role in the development and implementation of Number Portability service,” he declared.

Some of the roles expected of a regulator in this kind of environment include providing the link between the law and the actual implementation of that resolution.

In addition, the regulator should ensure it offers the leverage for the operators in the industry to develop a cost effective solution to operational and network aspects.

“Develop a Request for Proposal (RFP) and select a third party vender to operate a neutral administrative system,” he advised.

By leveraging on other good inputs from other regulatory, Mr. Mazzone NCC could reduce expenses and gain experiences in addition to customer advocacy based on balance demands with reality without leaving out good dispute resolution.

Regulator, he said, should set basic requirements for service level agreements with all operators in a fair and equitable manner.

Mr. Mazzone equally identified some key elements for number portability including that operators switches may have to be upgraded to support the number portability plan, while mobile network switches are more likely to be already NP databases.

He explained that existing Signalling Transfer Points (STP) should be able to support NP databases.

Highlighting the impact of the Number Portability on call set-up, Mr. Mazzone said that there are several options for routing a call to a portable number, distinguished by where and how the translation occurs and which networks are involved.

“All call query and N-1 query are the most widely deployed routing methods,” he declared, adding that All Call query enables translation into the directory number to a routing number at the call-originating switch or network.

While the N-1 query processes the call as based on the dialled number until NP could make a difference in the routing, then translate the directory number to a routing number.

“The most common variant routes the call from non-NP-capable switches to NP-capable switches, then performs the translation,” he enlightened.

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