Number Portability N.P. Singh Professor (IT) MDI, Gurgaon -122007
Number portability (NP) • NP refers to the ability of end-users to retain their telephone number when they change 1. their network operator/service provider 2. their location 3. or their service.
Positives • There are many technical advantages if number portability is implemented. • The customers will have the convenience option to move from their existing operators to other favoured service providers while retaining their telephone numbers. • There will be inflow of subscribers from landline customers to mobile phone, as number portability may remove a potential barrier to wireless substitution. • The sector is driven by consumer acquisition, and this technology will change the focus to consumer retention. • It would increase competition and may reduce prices of the services being offered and the quality of services too would improve. • Mostly beneficial would be those who are traveling professionals and businessmen.
Negatives • As the customers are more likely to change their service operators too often, there will be loss of bandwidth which is a big issue. • They will also shift their operators during every promotional plan in which some service or the other is given for free for some time period. • There will also be loss of tariff transparency as identification of a number with a service provider would be difficult. • SMS which has been the catalyst for the impressive growth may create a problem in the porting of messages. • Also non-porting costs such as promotions and advertising, customer services and value-added services will be required to keep up with enhanced competition. • It would require huge investments by operators which could lead to an increase in the cost of services which can affect tele-density
Classification of number portability services There are three number portability services : • Operator portability • Location portability • Service portability
Operator portability service • It refers to the ability of an end user to retain the same telephone number when changing from one operator to another. • It is also referred to as ‘service provider number portability’.
Operator portability service • It is further divided into: • geographic number portability for all fixed public telephone network and integrated services digital network (ISDN) subscribers at a specific location ; • Non-geographic number portability or NGNP for fixed numbers at any location ; and • mobile number portability or MNP.
Indian Classification-TRAI • Operator portability can be implemented for geographic , non-geographic, or mobile numbers contained in the National Numbering Plan. • Geographic numbers for fixed lines convey the subscriber’s location, and convey the location of the customer. • A non-geographic number does not imply the location of the customer • Mobile Numbers are reserved for subscribers of mobile services.
Indian Classification-TRAI • Fixed Number Portability (FNP) • FNP is the portability of fixed geographic numbers. • MNP • MNP is the portability of mobile telephone numbers • INP • Intelligent Number Portability is the portability of the non-geographic intelligent number (IN)
Location portability • It refers to the ability of an end-user to retain the same telephone number when changing from one physical location to another without necessarily changing their operator.
Service portability • It refers to the ability of an end-user to retain the same telephone number when changing from one type of service to another without necessarily changing their operator. (e.g., from old telephone service to ISDN)
Terms • Donor network: The initial network where the number was located before ever being ported. • Originating network: The network where the calling party is connected. • Recipient network: The network where a number is located after being ported. • Database: The store of ported numbers with their relevant routing numbers. • Routing number: A specific number that is derived and used by the network to route the call towards a ported number.
Processing a call to a ported number Two stages are involved : 1. Interception stage • It is the recognition that the call is toward a ported number. It can be performed at : - donor switch (local exchange where the subscriber line was initially attached before being ported), - transit switch, - originating switch (the switch from which the calling party’s call originates). 2. Routing stage The call is re-routed from the intercepting switch to the new terminating switch.
Solution • These include roaming, operational support system modifications, call charging arrangements, routing arrangements in the National Numbering Plan, interconnection between networks, support of number portability within and across mobile technologies, the timeframes involved in the introduction of solutions, the cost-effectiveness of different solutions, handling of voicemail, data and fax numbers, and routing of SMS traffic in the case of MNP.
Two solution • Off-switch Solutions • Off-switch solutions transfer the knowledge of porting information into one or more external databases that all network switches can access for query. Interception is performed at the originating switch or at some transit switch. This type of solution allows for the efficient routing of the call towards the recipient switch. • The originating switch (or some transit switch) can intercept a call to a ported number by querying the database that contains the list of all ported numbers plus routing information associated with each ported number.
Two possibilities • All-Call-Query method: The originating network first checks the location of the dialed number in the central database and then routes the call directly to the recipient network.
Second • Query-on-Release: The originating network first checks the status of dialed number with the donor network. • The donor network returns a message to the originating network identifying if the number has been ported or not. • The originating network then queries the central database to obtain the information regarding the recipient network and routes the call directly to the recipient network.
On-switch Solutions • In the case of on-switch solutions, the donor network manages the routing information for a ported number. • Thus, the donor switch performs the interception, either routing the call itself, or providing routing information to the originating network that then routes the call to the recipient network. • Consequently, this involves the use of internal databases.
Two possibilities • Onward routing (call forwarding): Here, the originating network connects to the donor network. If the dialed number has been ported, the donor network itself routes the call to the recipient network.
Second • Call Drop Back: Here the donor network checks if the number is ported and if it is, releases the call back to the originating network together with information identifying the correct recipient network. • The originating network then routes the call to the recipient network.
All Call Query Method NP DB Donor Network 2 1 Recipient network Originating Network 3
Query On Release NP DB 2 Donor Network 1 4 3 Recipient network Originating Network 5
Call Drop Back Scheme 2 NP DB 4 Donor Network 3 1 Recipient network Originating Network 5
Onward Routing Scheme 2 NP DB Donor Network 3 1 4 Recipient network Originating Network
Implementing Number portability Technical solutions depends on : • The time scales required ; • The characteristics of the existing network (level of digitalisation, existence of Intelligent Network (IN) platforms, network architecture etc) ; • The interconnection structure (number of POIs and level of interconnection, number of transit areas etc); and • The scale of implementation of NP (very small number of lines concerned, or generalised use of this service) and the number of operators involved.
Number Portability in India • Telcordia’s joint venture company MNP Interconnection Telecom Solutions India Pvt Ltd (MITS) has been selected to manage India’s Mobile Number Portability solutions in South and East of India. • Syniverse Technologies for the North and the West.
Telcordia • It is a NASDAQ listed entity, and on Feb 23rd 2009, it received the go-ahead from India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for foreign investment. • Telcordia was allowed to pick up upto 74% foreign investment in the mobile number portability, and allowed a foreign investment of Rs. 45 Crores
Syniverse Technologies • It has won the mandate for the North and West regions, including two fairly saturated and key markets - Delhi and Mumbai. • It is a company that provides technology interoperability, network services and number portability to mobile operators, wireline carriers, emerging telecom market entrants and enterprise customers. • The company is headquartered in USA, with offices in major cities throughout the Americas and in The Netherlands, London, Luxembourg, Rome, Beijing and Hong Kong.
Fees: • There is a one time, non-refundable, entry fee of Rs. 1 crore for the license, and the licence fee is one percent of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) of the licensee Company. • There is no license fee for first two years.
Roll Out Process: • The country has been segmented into two zones consisting of 11 Licensed Service Areas each with 2 Metro service areas in each zone. • A maximum of two companies will manage MNP for a period of 5 years, each with a separate zone of operation. • Initially MNP will be implemented in all Metro and category ‘A’ service areas within 6 month of award of the License. • MNP regime will be rolled out in the country by end of summer 2010.
No Service Period: • The window period for disconnection and activation by operators has been kept at one hour each, so the maximum downtime for the subscriber will be two hours.
How Long Will It Take? • The porting process will take a maximum time period of 4 days in all licensed service areas except in the case of J&K, Assam and North East where the maximum time allowed is 12 days. Weekends are excluded from this time frame.
Pricing: Porting, Dipping • Per Port Transaction charge - A processing charge paid by recipient operator (the operator to which the subscriber shifts her loyalty) to Mobile Number Portability Service Provider
Pricing: Porting, Dipping • Dipping charge - charge paid by the service provider who uses the query response system of the MNP service provider for obtaining location routing number (LRN) for correct routing of the called number. • According to the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI), the key drivers for dipping are total number of calls, missed calls and SMS. • They want an upper limit for the dipping charge to be specified, to avoid unjustified charges being levied by MNP operators who have a monopoly for five years in their zone. • RCOM recommends a dipping charge of Rs. 0.01-0.015, which AUSPI recommends Rs. 0.02.
Pricing: Porting, Dipping • Porting charge - charge payable by the subscriber for porting his number to the recipient operator. • Brazil, which has a high prepaid ratio like India has a porting rate of 6% in the first 9 months of the MNP implementation. • RCOM suggests that a successful case of Hong Kong needs to be looked at, where there’s a porting charge of just HK$ 1.29 (around Rs. 8) being levied. • RCOM recommends a porting charge of Rs. 20
Operators Have To Decide Dipping Charge Within A Month • While TRAI has avoided fixing the dipping charge, the amount to be paid by operators and ILD providers to the MNP service providers, it has given them 30 days to arrive at a mutual agreement on the amount. If they do not, it will decide the price.
On Donation For Donors: • Some operators had demanded that a charge be instituted to reimburse donor operators (the ones losing the subscriber to another) for their administrative costs due to MNP and loss of revenue from subscribers. • TRAI has cut aside these requests and determined that there would be no compensation on this count. It ”does not require the Donor Operator to carryout any significant work,” TRAI has stated.
Upgradation: • Those offering basic services such as ILDs (who do not benefit from MNP but have to spend to upgrade their equipment to offer compliance with it) also demanded compensation for the new investments they will have to make. • But TRAI has emphatically pointed out that, according to Clause 17.7 of Basic Licence, Clause 17.6 of ILD Lincence and Clause 2.6 of UAS Licence, licensees have to install equipment that is compatible with others’ equipment or services.
Proposed Architecture of MNP • Cost Effectiveness • Scalable & Modular Architecture • High Performance • Reliability- • Disaster recovery options at separate Geographic Location (City) • Support open standards • Security of Centralized database
Switching cost measurements • Measuring consumers’ switching costs has been the issue for competition policy research for a few decades. • Direct and indirect methodologies are implemented in order to assess the switching costs. • The direct method uses consumer and market information, then employs a statistical model. T • he indirect method uses only price or service fee and market share. • However, the direct method is more complicated, needs large sample sizes and obtains data by questionnaire – so it is hard to see the switching cost measurement with the direct method
Number porting in Finland –Case • In Finland, a centralised number portability database known as the Master System is used for number porting in the mobile and fixed-line networks. • To date, a total of 3.1 million mobile phone numbers have been ported using the Master System. • In Finland there are about 5.2 million mobile phone numbers in use. No fewer than 2.1 million mobile subscribers changed operators at least once during 2003–2005. • The main reasons for the popularity of number porting in Finland are: • the simplicity of the process • the fact that it does not cost anything to the end customer • the favourable commercial terms for number porting in the operator business • and the fact that the market is highly competitive.
Background Information • Number portability in the mobile communications networks is provided in accordance with the Directive 2002/22/EC of the European Parliament and the Council on universal service and users' rights relating to electronic communications networks and services (Universal Service Directive). The Directive obligates all member states of the European Union to implement number portability by the end of the national transition period ending on 25 July 2003. • The requirements included in the Universal Service Directive concerning the portability of telephone numbers are included in the Finnish Telecommunications Market Act (393/2003; Para 51 § and 52 §). Under the said act, the Finnish Telecommunications Authority has issued the Decree 46C/2005 including the fixed line numbers portability on the portability of telephone numbers.
Contd… • According the Decree Number portability are implemented in the fixed-wire telephone network within company numbers such as 010, 020, 029 and 03 during 2005 - 2006 • According to the decree, telecommunications companies are jointly obligated to ensure that a “Master System” is created for the purpose of enabling number portability. Under the new Telecommunications Market Act, number portability applies both to fixed-wire and mobile telecommunications networks. However, portability between these two types of networks is not required. • The operator relinquishing the number may not charge the customer for porting the number but, in contrast, the operator receiving the number may require a porting charge from the end-customer. Additionally, the relinquishing operator may require a one-off lump sum equivalent to the cost incurred from the receiving operator.