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Least Cost Routing: Number Portability Expected to Have Positive Impact, But Do Consumers Know It?


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April 04, 2011

Least Cost Routing: Number Portability Expected to Have Positive Impact, But Do Consumers Know It?

By Tammy Wolf, TMCnet Web Editor

Kenya is the most recent country to have rolled out number portability to mobile phone subscribers, thus giving them the opportunity to retain their contacts and numbers when switching carriers. But, from this point forward, what does this entail for Kenya and the other 62 countries to implement this service into the telecommunications market?

Number portability is seen by the Communications Commission of Kenya, and much of the world, as a move to both improve mobile telecommunications market competition, as well as prevent the loss of phone contacts that often comes along with changing phone numbers and carriers. The inability to retain this important data has, in the past, kept consumers from taking advantage of other mobile operators, thus damaging the potential for many service providers to prosper and maybe even topple the competition.

Director-General Charles Njoroge of the Communications Commission of Kenya sees the introduction of number portability to his country as an opportunity to greatly improve the quality of service available to network subscribers. He also hinted at the fact that these operators will now need to work even harder to keep up with the competition.

“In the new dispensation, service providers who do not pay attention to quality and good customer service may find it hard to survive,” said Njoroge.

This will only remain true, however, if Kenyans are receptive to this swapping option. A study conducted by Africa’s Business Daily revealed that many consumers are uncertain of the plans, mainly because they are unaware of the potential benefits. In fact, some initially considered number portability to be switching providers or multiple providers could be used for the same numbers. With little understanding for the service, what remained most unclear was whether consumers would be charged to have their number ported to another carrier.

A DNA India report recently revealed that many systems already in place, such as the one soon to be introduced to Kenya, are far from functional. This issue shines light on the challenges facing least cost routing capabilities.

To drive an effective solution, operators are seeking to route telephone calls based on the routing number, and not on the dialed telephone number. This least cost routing can deliver measurable benefits. For SIP service providers, however, sending a number portability query to an external database adds to the expense and critical dependency on an external network resource.

TransNexus’ (News - Alert) OSPrey-NP number portability server helps to address this problem by offering a simple, low-cost, high-performance software platform to host the U.S. number portability database locally within the network. The OSPrey-NP server automatically stays synchronized with the U.S. Number Portability Administration Center to ensure every network has a near real-time copy of the NPAC.

Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet copy editor. She also writes articles for TMCnet on a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee

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