Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mobile number portability

Mobile number portability (MNP) also impacts the internet telephony, or VOIP (Voice over IP) business. A voice call originated in the VOIP environment which is routed to a mobile phone number of a traditional mobile carrier also faces challenges to reach its destination in case the mobile phone number is ported. Mobile number portability is a service that makes it possible for subscribers to keep their existing mobile phone number when changing their service provider (or mobile operator).

VoIP is clearly identified as a Least Cost Routing (LCR) system, which is based on checking the destination of each telephone call as it is made, and then sending the call via the network that will cost the customer the least. With GSM number portability now in place, LCR providers can no longer rely on using the network root prefix to determine how to route a call. Instead, they now need to know the actual network of every number before routing the call.

Therefore, VoIP solutions also need to handle MNP when routing a voice call. In countries without a central database like the UK it might be necessary to query the GSM network about the home network a mobile phone number belongs to. As VoIP starts to take off in the enterprise markets because of least cost routing options, it needs to provide a certain level of reliability when handling calls.

MNP checks are important to assure that this quality of service is met; by handling MNP lookups before routing a call and assuring that the voice call will actually work, VoIP companies give businesses the necessary reliability they look for in an internet telephony provider. UK-based messaging operator Tyntec provides a Voice Network Query service, which helps not only traditional voice carriers but also VoIP providers to query the GSM network to find out the home network of a ported number.

In countries such as Singapore, the most recent Mobile number portability solution is expected to open the doors to new business opportunities for non-traditional telecommunication service providers like wireless broadband providers and voice over IP (VoIP) providers.

In November 2007, the Federal Communications Commission in the United States released an order extending number portability obligations to interconnected VoIP providers and carriers that support VoIP providers.

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