When the telecom industry in Western Europe started around 1995,mobile phone users were unable to retain their numbers whenchanging their service from one Network operator to another, orfrom one Service Provider to another.This radically changed whenNumber portability appeared, making it easier for the customer tochurn while easier for the telecom operator to retain. Now,something similar is happening in the emerging markets in whichwe are currently working. Number portability is inexistent or justinitiating its first moves. This post illustrates mmC GROUP’s lessonslearnt after several assignments in NP related projects.
Each country has its national numbering plan, which dictates whichtelephone numbers is used for what purpose, is managed bynational regulators. Mobile Network operators (MNOs), in turn aresupplied with a number range from the regulator, and they are heldresponsible for the responsible and judicious management of thenumbers assigned to them. When an MNO required additionalnumbers, it had to apply to the regulator for the additional numberrange. MNOs were also required to provide periodic reports to theregulator on how they have managed the stewardship of theirallocated number ranges.MNOs in turn allocate a number range to their respective serviceproviders (SPs). In the past, this was handled by assigning numberson a particular Home Location Register (HLR) to the SP. This method of number allocation worked well for the MNOs as itenabled their bases to be segmented along HLR levels andsimplified systems, security and report related issues in themanagement of their customer bases. In addition to this, byallocating certain ranges of mobile phone numbers (commonlyreferred to as MSISDN's) to certain SIM card number ranges (alsoknown as IMSIs), certain additional validation procedures could alsobe built into MNO and SP systems.
Advantages and Disadvantages to consider by MNOs
One of the big advantages of allocating specific numbers to MNOsand SPs is that anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of thetelecommunications industry can identify to which Network asubscriber belongs, and in some cases even to which SP they arecontracted.Although management of MSISDNs on an HLR and SP level helped toachieve certain productivity and data-integrity benefits for the MNO,the practice has a number of disadvantages, particularly for theend-subscriber. These disadvantages are: