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Least Cost Routing: NPAC's Take on Number Portability

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October 31, 2011

Least Cost Routing: NPAC's Take on Number Portability

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor


In all the talk surrounding least cost routing, number portability, network connections and seamless transfers, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the technology descriptions without truly understanding the technology.

This recent Neustar blog attempts to better explain the Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC) and what it can do for the average person. Essentially, the NPAC connects the networks of more than 2,000 North American Carriers, with a focus on least cost routing.


This move enables calls to be routed seamlessly and telephone numbers transferred at the request of the subscriber. As a result, individuals and businesses can freely choose their service providers without worrying about a change in telephone number.

In layman’s terms, the NPAC enables this critical component of competition in the communications market. If you consider that 10 years ago, there were fewer than 500 unique telecoms operating in the U.S. and today there are more than 2,000. Consumers need choice and operators need options when it comes to least cost routing.

The focus is increasingly on the consumer. For operators in North America, a major concern is customer “stickiness.” The NPAC helps with this goal as it makes it easier for consumers to shop around and pick the provider that best meets its needs. As operators consistently try to outdo one another in this market, the customer has the opportunity to enjoy a greater experience, lower prices and even new innovations.

While number porting is an important element supported with the NPAC, intra-service porting or moving numbers within the operator’s own network is also a perk. With intra-service provider porting, operators can optimize traffic to phone numbers within their own networks, improving interconnection efficiency and driving least cost routing.

When an emergency or disaster occurs, this capability is critical. Networks have been known to experience outages for a variety of reasons and operators can rely on the portability infrastructure to transfer phone numbers normally supported by a damaged service center to one that is functioning properly. This speeds recovery and ensures customers can get back on target quickly.

One thing for certain within the communications industry is that it does not stand still. Evolution has certainly taken place within the NPAC as the service was initially launched as a solution for wireless network architectures. It soon moved to support the growing wireless industry and promote least cost routing.

The neutral administration of the NPAC makes it a critical asset for the evolving needs of its users. Expect it to continue to provide efficient support for the market, regardless of any new obstacles that may come our way.


Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf







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