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Nationwide Number Portability - The Two Must-Know Tips for Success
It’s an exciting time for the telecommunications industry as the FCC (News - Alert) is poised to provide major market change in the form of nationwide local number portability. With this change, the industry benefits as a whole, with regional carriers and VoIP service providers looking to capitalize on this major shift. Additionally, customers are going to do extremely well, as this move does something the telecom industry has needed for decades – radically improves competition and levels the playing field.
The general belief is that the FCC will approve and the industry will move to quickly implement nationwide number portability, which will allow any ILEC, CLEC or Interconnected VoIP service provider with access to local number pooling in the United States to port in local numbers from any geography in the country. Today, if you are a regional carrier servicing two states and want to support a customer transferring an important number from a third state, the process is extremely challenging. There are limitations that make it difficult for the customer, or the carrier has to wait for a larger incumbent to release the number. That can take months and frustrates both the carrier and customer.
The good news is that, once the FCC approves this regulatory change the industry can move quickly to implement the required system changes. Bottom line: It frees up the carrier and customer to transfer numbers to whomever they wish to do business with while removing the current restrictive process.
In the Know
With the expectation this regulatory change will pass, every carrier wishing to capitalize on the new landscape will need to understand the process as well as how to ensure a successful adoption. Therefore, it is recommended that you either align yourself with an organization in the know or find a way to become looped in to one of the industry committees that will determine what technology changes are going to be required, as well as what the implementation standard and schedule will be. These organizations include committees such as NANC, the LNP working group, and the administrators of NPAC. There is a high likelihood that they have already started some of the preliminary work, but nothing will be official until the approval from the FCC.
The challenge is that having a seat at these tables costs money and can be cost prohibitive for some. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to reach out to the FCC directly as the online system can be compromised. However, if a carrier or telecommunications service provider is serious about maximizing on this and other potential opportunities, it requires having a seat at the table and making the investment to show up and participate to be heard and have your point of view considered. If that is not possible, I definitely recommend finding a good avenue to receive information quickly to adjust and comply with the technology and scheduling requirements.
It’s a Service Economy
Fortunately, the increased competition and leveled playing field gives our industry something else we have not seen in a long time – the ability to compete countrywide and on service and price. The cost of technology has decreased such that we are already on more level ground. Look at the internet. In the beginning, it was cost prohibitive to have a presence. Now anyone can set up a website and be in business. Today, it’s about service and customer acquisition.
Nationwide number portability will open up the industry so that customers can pick and choose their carrier based on criteria most important to them, rather than geographic restrictions. Regional carriers and VoIP service providers that choose to invest in a culture of service will win big.
The end result of this regulatory shift is the industry will gain more competition, improved innovation, and better customer service, making it a win for everyone. There’s no better time to be in the telecom industry than right now.
Edited by Mandi Nowitz