The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is working on final rules to enable true national number portability on a nationwide basis.
When implemented, it will enable complete national number porting between all service providers, regardless of size, service type or geographic location.
Number portability enables consumers and businesses to keep their current phone number when changing providers or, in some instances, when moving to a new location. However currently, nationwide number portability is limited. The FCC is seeking to fix this problem by removing competitive barriers that benefit big telephone companies.
Today, small wireless, wireline and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) number porting is geographically restricted. Carriers and service providers cannot port numbers between Local Access and Transport Areas (LATAs). Numbers must stay within regions.
The new FCC proposal presents two methods of achieving nationwide number portability: either use of a NLRN (National Local Routing Number) or use of an IPLRN (Internet Protocol Local Routing Number). Either method will achieve nationwide number portability by directing calls to service providers regardless of geographic location.
Nationwide number portability will simplify number porting for everyone without geographic barriers.
- Levels the playing field – Complete nationwide number portability will be made available between all service providers, regardless of size, service type and geographic service location. This will allow for small and regional carriers to compete with nationwide carriers, providing a better economic landscape for consumers and businesses alike.
- Expands flexibility to acquire numbers anywhere – The new ruling will allow carriers, operators and service providers to own and control their own numbering resources. They don’t have to go through a rate center. By allowing customers to keep their numbers regardless of location enables service providers to better serve customers and be more responsive.
- Removes disparities between service types – NNP will eliminate disparities that make wireline and VoIP porting more limited than wireless porting. It will also increase network efficiency in an era where all-distance calling is the norm.
We asked Jay Cox, Carrier Relations Manager at Magna5, to help us sort out what the new proposed NNP recommendation will mean for consumers and service providers like Magna5.
The concept of national number portability has been around for a while. What’s new?
“For years, wireless and toll-free number portability have been available to customers on demand in any geographic location across the United States. You can walk into any wireless phone store, buy a smartphone and be issued a mobile phone number on the spot. Or if you decided to switch phone carriers or locations, you can retain your current phone number.
“Wireline and VoIP numbers have been restricted to geographical rate centers due to regulatory and technological restrictions. This causes inconvenience to the customer and additional fees.”
NNP is destined to dramatically disrupt the current number porting landscape. What immediate benefit do you see benefiting service providers and carriers?
“Today, NPA/NXX number codes are associated with rate centers, and these numbers are geographically restricted. There are approximately 150 million wireline numbers tied to geographic rate centers across the country. NNP will allow those numbers to move between rate centers … there won’t be any geographic restrictions in allocating and porting numbers. This will be significant change! For example, if a service provider has facilities in New York and Seattle, they can currently only offer numbers from those cities to customers. But with NNP, they can port numbers from any rate center. Numbers will no longer reside exclusively in geographical rate center locations. Number location will be determined by use of NLRN or IPLRN.”
How does this affect service providers?
“Service providers will no longer be restricted by location when allocating and assigning telephone numbers. A customer can place an order with them, and they will port their number without concern of geographic location. It won’t make any difference where the numbers reside. Service providers will be able to port numbers much like what currently occurs within the wireless telephone number network. They’ll have coverage nationwide outside of their existing facilities. This advantage will enable them to be more responsive to their customers.
“Consumers will also benefit. For example, suppose your sister and brother-in-law live in Shorewood, WA and had a Shorewood, WA number. If they later move to Jamestown, NC, they can keep their familiar Shorewood, WA number.”
More to Come Later
The FCC and working group committees are finalizing the rules and will be working out the technical requirements, routing instructions and cost responsibilities. It will likely take a year or more before FCC issues a final ruling, and even longer to implement all required operating systems and network switch changes. Stay tuned.