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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Telcos need to upgrade switches

•On Number Portability

Number Portability (NP) expert and Vice President, Sales and Alliances, Interconnection Solutions, at Telcodia for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Mr. Thomas Mazzone, has identified some key elements for successful implementation of the proposed number portability in the country.

Key challenge to this success, he said includes upgrading of switches and databases by telecommunications operators.

Mr. Mazzone gave this insight at the recently held four-day workshop on Number Portability in Lagos, organised by the telecom regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), while dwelling on the fundamentals of number portability.

He pointed out at the event well attended by members of Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and Association of Licensed Telecommunications of Nigeria (ALTON), 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.

As said by him, Number Portability no doubt impacts on non-call messaging because it has to do with non-call associated signalling such as routing for messages that are not directly involved with call set-up including the Short Messaging Service (SMS) Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) and calling name queries.

He emphasised that with the introduction of NP, there is a need to assure that the combination of Translation Type and Global Title Address (TT-GTA) translates to a destination in the subscription network, which may be the Range Holder network or a Recipient network.

Mr. Mazzone further said that under this platform, mobile porting would be faster and easier than the fixed, therefore offering some advantages to mobile users.

He said that mobile porting offers newer network elements with more logical control capabilities, fast competitive corporate culture and change processes, while higher levels of operations process mechanization and flexibly designed.

For the fixed porting, the expert said that its regulation in place for fixed line competition, mandated opening of networks, competition across technologies such as cable TV while introduction of new technologies such as Voice of Internet Protocol (VoIP), adding that single modal porting is faster and less complicated than inter-modal porting.

Hence, he said that fixed operators are more accustomed to inter-working with each other than the mobile operators.

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