Are you aware or does the Telecommunications Provider or Vendor company that you work for or affiliated with know that Telcordia has petitioned the FCC to institute competitive bidding for Number Portability Administration and to end the NAPM LLC’s interim role in the Number Portability Administration contract? Well if you click the link above it will take you to the FCC web site where you can read for yourself all the details of the adopted May 16th, 2011 order.
The FCC is proceeding with an open and transparent procurement process that will consider the advantages of having multiple LNPAs. This by all rights should ultimately benefit consumers and the overall telecommunications industry with competitive pricing, more innovative services and redundancy for what has become a mission-critical service.
After weighing responses to a March 8, 2011 Order and Request for Comment, which was itself a response to Telcordia’s petition to institute competitive bidding for the administration of number portability, the FCC adopted new procedures on May 16 for selecting a new or additional administrators and re-inserted itself more definitively in the process.
The FCC will allow the North American Numbering Council (NANC) and the North American Portability Management LLC (NAPM) to continue to lead the selection process for new administrators, but at the urging of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) the Commission will take final approval authority over any resulting contracts. Telcordia, for its part, requested several changes to the order, some of which the FCC adopted, such as giving the commission approval authority over the RFP, RFI and Technical Requirements Document and designating the commission as arbiter in any disputes that arise in the recommendations process.
The ultimate result of an open bidding process may likely be a multi-vendor solution to managing the databases for number portability. It has been a long wait for those hoping to see the FCC’s original intention of a multi-vendor solution realized. Other unrealized benefits that a multi-vendor environment might bring about include price competition and new features. “In monopolistic environment one tends to emphasize stability over change and enhancements. You don’t have the competition to spur you on to do creative things. It’s human nature; it’s just how things work,” said Richard Jacowleff, president of Interconnection Solutions at Telcordia.
In 1997, in its Second Report and Order on Telephone Number Portability (FCC 97-289), the FCC required implementation of number portability enabling consumers to keep (or “port”) their local phone number when switching from one telecommunications provider to another by naming two LNPAs to provide NPAC services on a regional basis. In that order the FCC noted, “there are clear advantages to having at least two experienced number portability database administrators that can compete with and substitute for each other, thereby promoting cost-effectiveness and reliability in the provision of Number Portability Administration Center services.” However, when one of the selected LNPA vendors was unable to perform, implementation defaulted to the single remaining vendor, and many of the advantages of having multiple LNPAs were never realized.
Telcordia succeeded – with the help of other’s such as NASUCA, other advocacy groups and the carriers themselves – in opening the process, a first since the Second Report and Order in 1997 establishing the NPAC. Telcordia has reiterated what the FCC said in its original order, that “there are clear advantages to having at least two experienced number portability database administrators that can compete with and substitute for each other, thereby promoting cost-effectiveness and reliability in the provision of Number Portability Administration Center services.”
Reliability hasn’t been an issue – yet, said Richard Jacowleff, president of Interconnection Solutions at Telcordia. “They have had very good service, but still, it is one vendor and one set of infrastructure. If the NPAC is down for any period that will start to decay service for the entire United States,” he said. Besides, the requirements are getting more complex all the time, which leads to a higher probability of failure at some point. “The ecosystem in ’97 was just the carriers. Today those carriers are dwarfed by the other players like the content guys and other players who want access,” Jacowleff said.