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Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
Mobile number portability allows a mobile subscriber to switch operators without changing his/her telephone number. This paper describes and analyzes mobile number portability routing mechanisms .This concept examines the consequences of introducing mobile number portability (MNP).
Mobile number portability (MNP) requires that mobile telephone customers can keep their telephone number–including the prefix–when switching from one provider of mobile Tele communications services to another. In the absence of MNP, customers have to give up their number and must adopt a new one when they switch operators. As a result, customers face switching costs associated with informing people about changing their number, printing new business cards, missing valuable calls from people that do not have the new number, etc. Based on these considerations, many regulatory authorities have imposed mandatory MNP–or are about to require its introduction–so as to reduce customers’ switching costs, attempting to make mobile telecommunications more competitive The world’s first country to introduce MNP was Singapore in 1997.
This paper introduces the concept of number portability, explains its different types and benefits, and the technical, operational, and economic issues that might arise out of its implementation in India. The specific issues such as ensuring tariff transparency, the National Numbering Plan, and regulating porting charges, etc. have been raised and will need careful consideration.
Number Portability will allow subscribers to change their service provider while retaining their old mobile number. Portability benefits subscribers and increases the level of competition between service providers, rewarding service providers with the best customer service, network coverage, and service quality.
History:The first implementation of MNP starts in late 1990s with Singapore implementing the MNP (limited) functionality in 1997 followed by Hong Kong in 1999, Spain in 2000, Australia in 2001 and list continues to grow.
Theory on Mobile Number Portability (MNP), sample
implementation and issues related to introduction in India:
In Indian cellular communication scenario, the term MNP is becoming morepopular. Sticking to Herbert Spencer’s theory on “Survival of the fittest”, the mobileoperators will be forced to follow this theory in serving the customers. Either they have tosatisfy their customers with the service or lose them to their mpetitors without anyproblem to the customers. It could also be termed as, a customer having the option ofswitching service providers without changing the mobile number.
With current scenario, if a customer is dissatisfied on the service by mobileoperator either he has to reluctantly accept the service or switch to another service provider that he wishes. In the later case, he has to drop his identity, the mobile number.In most cases when the mobile number is used for all business and family
correspondence, it becomes generally impossible to leave the number. To overcome these hardships, the concept of MNP (Mobile Number Portability) was introduced.
Porting- The process initiates with the subscribers request for a new connection. The subscriber is suppose to submit a “porting request form” to the recipient operator (access provider who will be providing mobile telecommunication service to the subscriber after porting) with all documents required for a new connection i.e. photo id, address proof, etc. along with a copy of the last bill of the donor operator (to whose network the mobile number belongs at the time the subscriber makes a request for porting). The recipient operator then verifies all the documents and after verification the recipient operator has to inform the subscriber. The subscriber has to send a request to the donor operator to initiate porting process and the donor operator in return will forward an SMS with a unique porting code to the recipient operator. After receiving the porting code the recipient operator has to send all the documents with porting code to the MNP operator within next 24 hours.
The MNP operator’s task is to facilitate porting process between two operators. After receiving all the details from recipient operator including porting code the MNP operator forwards all the documents to the donor operator for clearance. But before forwarding the documents MNP operator has to verify few details i.e. the number has been previously ported in the immediately preceding 90 days (as ninety days is compulsory for a subscriber to stick to one access provider) or if there is any other request for porting the same number is pending. After receiving all the details the donor operator within 24 hours and has to report back to MNP operator after verifying all the details and the porting code.
Thereafter MNP operator has to complete the porting within next 36 hours and is supposed to communicate the date and time of porting to both the operators. The MNP operator at the specified time instructs the donor operator to disconnect the subscriber’s number from its service and report compliance within one hour of such instructions. Thereafter, the MNP operator informs the recipient operator to activate the number on its network within one hour thereof.
Also the subscriber is supposed to pay a porting charge and he is also entitled to cancel his porting request but his porting charge will be non- refundable.
How International Calls are Routed:
In order to understand the degree of the mobile number porting problem, one must understand how calls are routed today to get from the point of origin to their ported or unported destination.The originating international carrier receives the call from an end user directly or indirectly and uses the dialed number embedded in the C7 or SS7 signaling stream to decide how best to route the call. The dialed number is then analyzed by the switch or an external SCP based upon the ITU codes assignment schema (Country Code [1-3 digits], National Number [max. 15 digits]) and matched against their Least Cost Routing (LCR) system for how best to route the call. In some terminating country cases, the national number is broken down further to define different cities, regions,fixed carriers or mobile carriers. These designations are typically fixed and predictable until number portability is implemented.Each sub-route may be at a different rate and therefore,based upon the LCR logic, may be sent to a different longhaul carrier to complete or sent down a bilateral route they may share with the in-country operator. The LCR will also determine routes based on needed call quality, rates and other business rules.Regardless of final route decided by the LCR business rules, the call will be onward routed to a carrier serving the destination country based on the resumed-to-becorrect assigned code of the final terminating carrier. It is this presumption and the uncertainty that number portability injects into this process that is at the heart of portability problems.Once the call reaches the designated in-country carrier, that carrier utilizes any one of the four following technologies to determine which carrier currently serves a particular mobile telephone number. These four main technologies have been adopted to deal with in-country number portability corrections.
1) All-Call Query
Requires central database, all calls queried for status (most efficient)
2) Query on Release
Requires central database, only query ported
3) Call Dropback
No central database
4) Onward Routing
No central database, additional circuit for duration of call (least efficient) Depending upon the mechanism encountered, a transit penalty charge may be assessed to cover the cost of an additional call leg, if the routing is identified as incorrect.For all methods, the originating carrier remains unaware of the final destination of any particular call, what percentage of its calls are ported, which ones were more expensive and which ones were less (assuming the lower-priced call is even passed back to the originating carrier) and if a transit penalty was applied or not. The bill that hits them in 30, 60 or 90 days cannot be validated and may have added up to a relatively large sum.
Basic glossary and terms used in MNP:
Ported out – If a subscriber moves to new service provider, for the old service provider, he is a “ported out” subscriber.
Ported in - If a subscriber moves to new service provider, for the new service provider, he is a “ported in” subscriber.
Donor – The service provider left by the subscriber is termed as “donor”
Recipient – The service provider joined by the subscriber is termed as “recipient”
CDB – Central Database
ACQ – All Call Query
Concept and Implementation:
In terms of concept, the MNP functionality is used only in MT transactions of voice and messaging. For MO transactions, the current flow scenario remains unchanged. Only for the MT functionalities, the mobile number has to be identified and the corresponding service provider has to be interrogated for optimal routing of the service.
There are two basic implementation of MNP.
a) Indirect Routing or decentralized or bilateral architecture:
This model works bilaterally between the donor and recipient service providers who are responsible for informing all others of the change. It would suit to markets with less number of service providers. Each provider will have a dedicated setup and comprehensive database of ported out and ported in subscribers. As the number of service providers increases, the bilateral approach becomes a great burden to all service providers involved in terms of time, cost and resources. FNR (Flexible Number Register) will help the service providers
have the ported database in addition to the original HLR database.
Sample implementation of MNP in middle east:
In one of the countries of middle east, the MNP service is implemented in bilateral architecture. There are two operators available in the country and each have their own customized system for handling the MNP database. Whenever a customer wants to change his service provider, he visits the recipient provider and
initiates a request to port in the subscription with the recipient provider. The recipient party then coordinates with the donor party for porting the number.During the process, the donor deletes the number from its HLR database and updates the number in its FNR – ported out list. Similarly the recipient party updates the number in its HLR database and FNR – ported in list.