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LNP was defined in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as the \u201cability of users of telecommunications services to retain, at the same location, existing telecommunica- tions numbers without impairment of quality, reliability, or convenience when switch- ing from one telecommunications carrier to another.\u201d
The Telecommunications Act mandated that all telecommunications service providers provide, to the extent technically feasible, number portability in accordance with the requirements prescribed by the Commission. LNP got little attention until the FCC issued a mandate in June of 1996, requiring the implementation of LNP accord- ing to a very aggressive schedule. Rather than cite the specifics of the FCC mandate (FCC Docket 95-116), I will leave it to the reader to review the mandate itself, which is being published in three different phases. However, it should be understood that LNP affects everyone involved in wireline and wireless industries.
\u25a0The solution must support existing services and features.
\u25a0LNP must use the existing numbering resources efficiently.
\u25a0LNP cannot require subscribers to change their telephone numbers.
\u25a0There can be no unreasonable degradation in service (such as call setup delays) or
The intent of LNP is to open up local telephone service to competition. The authors of the Telecommunications Act feel that the biggest roadblock to competition is the own- ership of telephone numbers. Subscribers are reluctant to switch to a new service provider because they have to give up their telephone numbers when they switch to a new service provider. LNP enables subscribers to switch to a new provider while keep- ing their existing telephone numbers.
This presents a huge challenge to the telephone industry. Until now, the routing of telephone calls has been based on the first six digits of the telephone number (NPA- NXX, or area code and office code). If a subscriber moves to a new area or elects to change service providers, this is no longer possible. The telephone switches once iden- tified by the old numbering plan are suddenly faced with servicing numbers from other service providers.
If a subscriber moves across the country, the problem becomes more complex. Telephone equipment and software throughout the network have been designed to use the telephone number to determine the geographical location of subscribers. For ex- ample, everyone knows that the 212 area code is Manhattan. However, with LNP, a sub- scriber with a 212 area code could live in California. This problem is compounded when one looks at billing systems,operations support systems (OSSs), and other network sub- systems, which all rely on the numbering plan for determining a caller\u2019s geographic lo- cation and service provider.
This chapter will outline the impact of LNP on the telecommunications industry, how it works, and how Signaling System 7 (SS7) is used to implement LNP for both wire- line and wireless networks.
There are three phases to LNP. The first phase,service provider portability, is being im- plemented now. This enables a subscriber to select a new local service provider while keeping his or her existing telephone number. It also enables a subscriber to move within his or her rate center while maintaining the same telephone number.
The next phase of LNP is service portability. This enables subscribers to change the type of service they have while keeping their telephone numbers. For example, if a sub- scriber changes from a Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) line to anIntegrated
ber, because the switching equipment used to provide the ISDN service supports a dif- ferent block of numbers. With LNP, the subscriber does not have to give up the tele- phone number when changing the type of service.
The most difficult phase of LNP is location portability. This will enable a subscriber to move from city to city, or even state to state, while maintaining the same telephone number. This has a much more global impact. Even subscribers are accustomed to as- sociating geographical areas with telephone numbers. It will be difficult for anyone to determine where he or she is calling once location portability is implemented.
termining the time and distance used in the billing of phone calls. Rate centers are de- termined by using vertical (V) and horizontal (H) coordinates. Porting a number out- side of a rate center will present many technological challenges in itself and is being addressed in later implementations of number portability.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the FCC mandate (docket 95-116) do not specify exactly how LNP is to be implemented. They simply outline the ground rules to be used when implementing it in the network. The first trial of LNP took place in Illinois under the direction of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). The ICC spec- ified some rules regarding the actual implementation, such as using a location routing
There have been several proposals for providing LNP without implementing a database solution. The first solution was call forwarding. This was quickly rejected by the FCC as an interim solution because of the delay imposed on the calling party while the car- riers tried to route the call. The FCC did not want subscribers punished for changing providers, and it has stringent requirements regarding the level of service provided to subscribers when they switch carriers.
Another approach wasQuery-on-Release (QoR). When a call is routed to a number that has been ported, the receiving switch identifies the number as being vacant and returns an SS7 REL with an appropriate cause code. The originating switch would then initiate a database query to determine if the number had been ported. This approach certainly reduces the traffic across the SS7 network and lessens the impact of the data- base queries, but again it places unnecessary delays on setting up telephone calls to subscribers who have changed carriers. QoR was also rejected as an interim method.
The solution that was chosen was the LRN method. The end-office switches in the rate center have a table identifying all NPA-NXXs, which have numbers in them that have been ported. The specific number is not provided in the database, so the switch must initiate a query if it is determined that the number dialed was to an NPA-NXX considered as ported.
The database provides a LRN, which is explained later when we discuss call flows. The LRN method places a higher demand on the SS7 network, but ensures there is no degradation of quality or service for the subscriber who changes carriers. Unfortun- ately, the LRN also imposes huge unrecoverable costs on telephone companies.
There has to be some event that causes a query to take place. The industry has agreed that Intelligent Network/Advanced Intelligent Network (IN/AIN) triggers should be used to initiate queries. A trigger expands the call-processing capabilities of switches bytriggering defined events to take place (like initiating an LNP query) when specific criteria are met. For example, if received dialed digits equal a specific value, a query is sent to obtain additional routing instructions. This will require software upgrades in all switching equipment to support IN/AIN triggering.
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