The general feeling within the telecom sector appears to be that Nationwide Number Portability (NNP) will be the greatest thing since the telephone was invented.
I, on the other hand, being an old customer and carrier billing dinosaur do not see the situation in quite the same light.
Admittedly, my aging crystal ball does not have a guaranteed view of the future in terms of how telecom voice and data providers will be compensated for providing services in the decades to come. The concepts of customer billing, access charges and intercarrier settlements may become outdated vestiges of the past eventually.
However, in my mind there will have to be some type of transition that will be robust enough to deal with a world in which Numbering Plan Area (NPA) and NXX codes have no real geographic and/or carrier ownership meaning as they did when they were conceived over eighty (80) years ago.
If a telecom company is not receiving large numbers of calls from interconnecting carriers and is not involved in some type of inter-company settlements or billing for completing such calls though, then everything might be perfectly fine when NNP or Porting Outside the Rate Center becomes a fact-of-life everywhere. However, in those cases where telecom companies do have large volumes of traffic both in and out from other connecting carriers then there may be a need to be concerned if there is some type of settlement or carrier billing that is tied to the exchange of such traffic.
In an environment where telephone number NPA and NXX codes no longer have geographic or carrier ownership meaning, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to know how to assign billing responsibility and to rate incoming traffic from other carriers.
For instance, let’s take a hypothetical case of a New York fixed-line ILEC telecom company receiving a incoming tandem-routed local call from a connecting New York CLEC with an originating number that has an NPA NXX code that is assigned to a wireless company in California.
Is this call sure to be recognized as a local call?
Someone might be quick to respond that it would be recognized and be classified as a local call if the call contained a Jurisdictional Information Parameter (JIP) value of a local New York NPA-NXX code.
Will this always happen?
What would happen if the call did not have an appropriate JIP value?
Is it possible that such call traffic might instead be viewed as some type of bypass that has been dumped on a local interconnection trunk group?
Also, let us suppose that the same local New York ILEC wishes to route a call from one its customers to the local New York CLEC customer with a telephone number that is assigned to a wireless company in California.
Will such a call be viewed as an intra-rate center call requiring a Local Number Portability (LNP) database dip?
In fact, there is an US Patent Office solution for such situations (United States Patent 6078657) that has been in existence since mid-2000. The Patent describes how a telecom can utilize Geographic Unit Building Blocks (GUBBs) to solve cases that involve porting telephone numbers outside the Rate Center.
To fully harness the concept of GUBBs though there has to be a nationwide mapping that produces the GUBB which is “defined as the smallest geographic unit within a State (or area of portability) used for purposes of identifying the geographic location of telephone subscribers. The boundaries of each GUBB shall be defined on a template (a map) specific to each State (or area of portability). “ The GUBB “is a new telecom network structure built around Portability Outside the Rate Center (PORC) and the division of the North American Numbering Plan Areas (NANPAs) into small, non-overlapping geographic blocks”.
In order for the GUBB concept to work, the GUBB values must be tied to each working telephone number in a switch and be populated in the LNP master nationwide database as the last four (4) digits of an LRN. Also, switch routing tables must be adjusted to recognize GUBB values such that proper routing of calls can occur.
Having the experience of participating in the transformation of the telephone industry prior to the twenty-first century, causes me to believe that working together we can conquer this situation if it is recognized as an issue in the very near future. The advancements in technology over the past several years certainly makes the change to NNP logistically doable, but only if the conversation around proper implementation starts well in advance of its deployment.