Nationwide Number Portability

On October 3, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a new Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) and Notice of Inquiry (NOI) for implementing nationwide number portability (NNP).

What does this mean? For consumers it means more choices and more control of their telephone numbers. For service providers, it means the removal of competitive barriers that benefit big telephone companies.

Telephone number portability was created by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This law paved the way for Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) to enter the telecom market. If a customer wanted to move their telephone service from the Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) to a CLEC, they would be able to keep their telephone number.

This new development was a powerful factor that enabled robust competition for telecom services and gave consumers and business many new choices for their telephone service. However, this change only enabled Local Number Portability. Customers could only keep their telephone number if they changed telephone service providers in the same local calling area.

The NPRM is proposing Location Number Portability. Consumers and businesses will be able to port their telephone number to any service provider they choose, wireless or wireline. A nationwide number portability database would become the national telephone routing directory and would make the Local Exchange Routing Guide (LERG) obsolete.

From most perspectives, a nationwide number portability database would be a big simplification for telephone operations. However, making the transition will be a challenge since it will impact legacy Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) operations.

The NOI seeks comments to better understand the following potential issues that might arise from NNP:

  • Will emergency 911 services be able to identify the location of the calling party if their service provider does not have interconnection in the local calling area?
  • Will NNP impact how disabled individuals who rely on video relay and IP relay services accessed via the PSTN?
  • Will Government Emergency Telecommunication Service (GETS) and the Priority Access Service (PAS), which provide priority calling for emergency telecommunications be impacted by NNP?
  • Will existing tariffs and intercarrier compensation prices be impacted?

At TransNexus, we believe all these issues can be addressed and that the benefits of more efficient telephone routing and greater competition will greatly exceed the transition costs. Read the FCC announcement in full.