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Implementation of Mobile Number Portability in CEPT Countries

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Implementation of Mobile Number Portability in CEPT Countries

    ECC REPORT 31

     Electronic Communications Committee (ECC)

    within the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT)

    IMPLEMENTATION OF

    MOBILE NUMBER PORTABILITY

    IN CEPT COUNTRIES

    Updated: October 2005

    (Original report: March 2003)

ECC REPORT 31 Page 2

0 PREFACE FOR THE UPDATED REPORT VERSION

    ECC Working Group Numbering, Naming and Addressing (WG NNA) decided at its meeting in Malta on 3-4 May 2005 to update the ECC Report 31 ―Implementation of Mobile Number Portability in CEPT Countries‖. The task was carried out by the ERO in summer 2005. WG NNA members were asked to update their country specific data and also to send feedback in case of no changes were necessary in existing data in the original report.

This update (revision 1) does not form a new report but a revision to the ECC Report 31. The structure of the original ECC

    Report 31 (March 2003 version) is mainly kept unchanged. Naturally, the accuracy of the contents has been checked and updated accordingly. The actual changes are not highlighted in the report, but the original version will be kept available at the ERO web-site. The WG NNA approved this updated report at its meeting in Paris on 4-5 October 2005.

The 46 CEPT countries are:

    Albania, Andorra, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and Vatican.

    ECC REPORT 31 Page 3

    INDEX TABLE

    0 PREFACE FOR THE UPDATED REPORT VERSION ........................................................................................ 2 1 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................................... 4 2 BACKGROUND ...................................................................................................................................................... 4 3 SCOPE OF IMPLEMENTATION.......................................................................................................................... 5 4 ROLE AND INVOLVEMENT OF REGULATOR ................................................................................................ 6 5 CALL ROUTING .................................................................................................................................................... 6 6 NUMBER DATABASES ......................................................................................................................................... 8 7 ADMINISTRATION OF PORTING ...................................................................................................................... 9 7.1 ENTITIES HANDLING PORTING REQUESTS ............................................................................................................. 9 7.2 PORTING PROCEDURES ...................................................................................................................................... 10 8 ECONOMIC ARRANGEMENTS ........................................................................................................................ 13 9 TARIFF TRANSPARENCY ................................................................................................................................. 18 10 SPECIAL MOBILE NUMBERS AND SERVICES .......................................................................................... 20 10.1 VOICEMAIL NUMBERS ....................................................................................................................................... 20 10.2 DATA AND FAX NUMBERS ................................................................................................................................. 20 10.3 PRE-PAID SERVICES........................................................................................................................................... 20 11 CONCLUSIONS ................................................................................................................................................ 21

ECC REPORT 31 Page 4

1 INTRODUCTION

This updated report presents key experience of CEPT countries that have implemented mobile number portability or are

    planning its implementation. The main purpose of the report is to enable countries that are preparing for the introduction of mobile number portability to be aware of the predominant approaches to its implementation and to compare alternative

    approaches. The information provided in this report might also assist countries that have already introduced mobile number portability but wish to review aspects of its implementation.

    Portability of various types of numbers is a fact in most liberalised telecommunications markets, and portability of mobile numbers is fast becoming more widespread. This may, in part, be due to arguments that the scale of the benefits from

    mobile number portability may be smaller than for portability of other types of numbers. If this is the case, the smaller benefits may be because, for many users, the ability to retain their mobile number when switching network is desirable but not critical, particularly when mobile phones are used only occasionally or predominately for outgoing calls. It may also be that the scope for efficiency gains through increased competition is lower in the mobile market because the rate of churn rate is generally relatively high even before portability is introduced.

    If the benefits of portability of mobile numbers are relatively less substantial than for other types of numbers, then the success of mobile number portability is likely to depend on factors such as how simple and inexpensive the implementation of portability is, relative to the value users put on their numbers and the retention of them.

    This updated report therefore also aims to provide information that points to ways in which mobile number portability can be implemented in the most cost-efficient manner.

The report summarises information collected in summer 2005 regarding implementation of mobile number portability or

    plans for its implementation.

    2 BACKGROUND

    Mobile telephones are an increasingly ubiquitous form of communication. In some cases, they have entirely replaced fixed telephones as the usual method of communication for residential or business users. This reflects the mobile penetration rates in many European countries, in which the trend is for the mobile penetration rate to exceed that of the fixed network. In EU countries, the average mobile penetration rate is greater than the fixed network penetration rate (see annex for estimated figures).

    For users, therefore, it may seem logical that the capability for porting fixed network numbers has been extended to mobile numbers. Mobile number portability also creates for mobile users the benefit of something akin to a personal number,

    which enhances the concept of personal mobility that they already receive via the use of a personal terminal.

From a user‘s perspective, mobile number portability creates an ability to switch mobile network without the possible cost

    and inconvenience of a change of their telephone number. This is because, in the absence of number portability, a change of number when switching networks requires most users to notify people who contact them of the new number. In the case of business users, especially those who rely on a mobile phone as a primary method of communication, the effort and cost involved in notifying contacts of a new number may be quite substantial.

From a regulator‘s perspective, mobile number portability is intended to produce certain effects on the mobile market.

    Fundamentally, it should prevent network operators from gaining market power by charging an extra price margin that

    corresponds to the cost of switching networks. Consequently, mobile number portability should:

    - Enhance competition among network operators, especially in relation to the installed subscriber base;

    - Create downward pressure on prices; and

    - Make it easier for newer entrants to gain market.

The European Union Directive on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services (Universal Service Directive) took effect in member states on 25 July 2003. Article 30 of the directive requires that:

    Member States shall ensure that all subscribers of publicly available telephone services, including mobile

    services, who so request can retain their number(s) independently of the undertaking providing the

    service:

    ECC REPORT 31 Page 5

    (a) in the case of geographic numbers, at a specific location; and

    (b) in the case of non-geographic numbers, at any location.

    3 SCOPE OF IMPLEMENTATION

    Mobile number portability has, to date (August 2005), been implemented in the following CEPT countries:

    Country Date of implementation

    Austria 16 October 2004

    Belgium September 2002

    Cyprus July 2004

    Denmark July 2001

    Estonia 1 January 2005

    Finland 25 July 2003

    France 30 June 2003

    Germany November 2002

    Greece September 2003

    Hungary 1 May 2004

    Iceland 1 October 2004

    Ireland 25 July 2003

    Italy April 2002

    Lithuania 1 January 2004

    Luxembourg 1 February 2005 1Malta 31 July 2005

    Netherlands April 1999

    Norway November 2001

    Portugal January 2002

    Slovak Republic 1 May 2004

    Spain October 2000

    Sweden September 2001

    Switzerland March 2000

    United Kingdom January 1999 Table 1: Dates of implementation of mobile number portability

    1. With interim arrangements until 31 March 2006

    Planning is underway in the following countries for implementation of mobile number portability:

    Country Planned implementation

    date, if any

    Croatia 30 October 2005

    Czech Republic 15 January 2006

    Poland October 2005

    Romania During 2007

    Slovenia 31 December 2005

    Table 2: Planning of mobile number portability

ECC REPORT 31 Page 6

4 ROLE AND INVOLVEMENT OF REGULATOR

    What is the appropriate role that should be assumed by the regulator in determining the approach to implementation of

    mobile number portability to be adopted in each country? Arguments for and against the regulator determining the

    approach to implementation are:

    - Without involvement by the regulator, industry players will lack the initiative, or the means of reaching

    agreement, to settle on a particular method of implementation;

    - The most cost-effective solution to a network operations problem such as implementation of mobile number

    portability will be most efficiently worked out by the industry players themselves.

CEPT countries vary regarding the extent of regulator involvement in determining how mobile number portability is

    implemented. Arguably the most important decision (other than apportionment of costs) to be made in preparation for

    implementation of mobile number portability is selecting the method to be used for routing calls made to a mobile number

    to the correct terminating mobile operator.

In many CEPT countries, network operators and other relevant parties have established a forum and process for making

    decisions collectively about mobile number portability implementation. In the absence of involvement by the regulator in

    determining the method to be used for routing calls and other important parameters of mobile number portability

    implementation, such a forum and process becomes essential and the effectiveness of it in reaching decisions quickly

    becomes critical. Even in those countries where the most critical decisions are taken by the regulator, however, it is clear

    that the involvement of industry in developing the detailed specifications for how mobile number portability will be

    introduced and will operate is vital.

    5 CALL ROUTING

    As mentioned above, a key question to be resolved early in the preparation for mobile number portability implementation is

    the method used for routing of calls from an originating network to the mobile network associated with a given mobile

    number. As with portability of other types of numbers, there are broadly two methods available for routing of calls in a

    mobile number portability environment:

    - Routing of a call directly from the originating network to the correct terminating mobile network, which

    requires the former to determine what is the appropriate network for a given number (―ALL CALL QUERY‖);

    or

    - The mobile network that was originally associated with a given number is involved in the routing of a call to

    the correct terminating mobile network.

The second method can be further divided into several different forms:

    - The mobile network originally associated with the called number identifies the correct terminating mobile

    network and routes the call onward to that network (―ONWARD ROUTING‖);

    - The mobile network originally associated with the called number checks if the number is ported and, if it is,

    releases the call back to the originating network together with information identifying the correct terminating

    network (―CALL DROP BACK‖); or

    - The mobile network originally associated with the called number identifies that the number is ported and

    returns a message to the originating network indicating that the number has moved. The originating network

    then queries a database to obtain information identifying the correct terminating network (―QUERY ON

    RELEASE‖).

Onward routing is often regarded as the simplest routing method to implement and the all call query method as the most

    complex, with the other methods lying between these two extremes. This is also reflected in the costs of establishment, with

    onward routing regarded as cheaper to establish than the all call query method. By contrast, the ongoing costs associated

    with the all call query method are usually regarded as less than those of the onward routing method. Again, the costs

    associated with the other two methods lie between those of all call query and onward routing.

    ECC REPORT 31 Page 7

The methods used for routing a call to a ported mobile number that originates on:

    - another mobile network (within the same country);

    - a fixed network (within the same country); or

    - a network in another country

     may be distinct. For calls to mobile numbers originating in another country, it is almost universally true that the foreign

    network will forward the calls initially to a correspondent network operator in the destination country, which will then

    route the call according to the same method it would use if the call originated on its own network.

It may not be necessary for all networks in a particular country to use the same method for routing of calls. Several

    countries have adopted approaches which permit network operators to choose the method of routing they will utilise.

The actual methods of routing calls to ported mobile numbers adopted in CEPT countries (or planned to be adopted)

    display considerable variation. Table 3 illustrates this variation across respondent countries and other CEPT countries for

    which information is available:

    Country How calls are routed from a fixed network to How calls are routed from a mobile network

    a mobile network to another mobile network Austria Onward routing or all call query All call query 11Belgium All call query All call query & query on release Croatia All call query All call query 2Cyprus All call query All call query Denmark All call query All call query Estonia All call query All call query Finland All call query (1.10.05-) All call query France Phase 1: onward routing Phase 1: onward routing

    Phase 2: all call query Phase 2: all call query Germany Onward routing & all call query All call query Hungary All call query & query on release Phase 1: all call query & query on release

    Iceland All call query All call query Ireland Onward routing All call query 2Italy All call query All call query Lithuania All call query All call query Luxembourg Onward routing All call query Malta Onward routing but ACQ may also be used All call query 32Netherlands All call query All call query Norway All call query All call query Poland All call query All call query Portugal All call query & query on release All call query & query on release Slovenia All call query All call query Spain Onward routing Onward routing Sweden Onward routing & all call query Onward routing & all call query Switzerland Onward routing Onward routing United Kingdom Onward routing Onward routing

    Table 3: Methods of routing calls to ported mobile numbers 1. The minimum legal requirement is for onward routing.

    2. Queries could be outsourced to other operator.

    3. Queries are outsourced by one operator to the incumbent operator.

SMS messages are routed between mobile networks via signalling paths rather than over voice circuits. This has two

    important implications:

    - The methods used for routing of calls to ported numbers are not applicable to handling of SMS messages

    forwarded to ported numbers; and

    - SMS traffic is generally only between mobile networks SMS traffic between fixed and mobile networks is

    in its infancy so routing of SMS messages to ported numbers does not yet need to take account of non-

    mobile networks.

ECC REPORT 31 Page 8

There is as yet little information available on the methods used or planned to be used in CEPT countries for routing SMS to

    the correct mobile network.

    6 NUMBER DATABASES

    All implementations of mobile number portability involve the use of databases that contain information on the network

    with which ported numbers are associated. This information is used in routing a call to a ported number, to determine the

    correct terminating network for the call. The actual information is usually a routing number that can be used to enable a call

    to a ported number to be routed to the correct mobile terminating network.

Number databases are typically managed in either a centralised or a distributed manner. The centralised model involves a

    single reference database containing data for all mobile numbers (or for all ported numbers it may not be considered

    necessary to store data for numbers that have not ported). It is usual for this reference data to be copied to operational

    databases in each participating network on a frequent basis. A centralised number database for mobile number portability is

    generally managed by a consortium of network operators, which may comprise just the mobile network operators or all

    network operators which may be involved in routing of calls to mobile numbers. The actual operation and maintenance of a

    centralised number database may be out-sourced to a third party company which has experience in database operations.

By contrast, the distributed model involves multiple databases containing subsets of the total data. Each separate database

    in the distributed model may, for example, comprise only the numbers assigned to a particular mobile network operator.

    The full set of information about all mobile numbers (or all ported mobile numbers) is only available from these separate

    databases when taken as a whole.

Most respondent countries (19 out of 23) have adopted or plan to adopt a centralised approach to management of a number

    database (see table 4).

    Country Type of ported mobile number database

    Austria Distributed

    Belgium Centralised

    Croatia Centralised

    1Cyprus Distributed

    Denmark Centralised

    Estonia Centralised

    Finland Centralised

    France Centralised

    Germany Centralised

    Hungary Centralised

    Iceland Centralised

    Ireland Centralised

    Italy Centralised

    Lithuania Centralised

    Luxembourg Centralised

    Malta Distributed

    Netherlands Hybrid distributed & centralised

    Norway Centralised

    Portugal Centralised

    Poland Centralised

    Slovenia Centralised

    Sweden Centralised

    Switzerland Centralised

    Table 4: Types of ported mobile number database 1. Operators are responsible to maintain their own database concerning all ported numbers or use another operator‘s

    database (incumbent‘s obligation) for routing their calls

    ECC REPORT 31 Page 9

7 ADMINISTRATION OF PORTING

    Although the technical implementation of mobile number portability involves particular challenges, more attention has

    been given to the administrative arrangements that facilitate porting of numbers. There is a good awareness that poorly

    designed, complex or easily-abused procedures for porting of mobile numbers are less likely to result in a successful

    implementation of portability or to produce the benefits that portability is intended to deliver.

Nevertheless, designing efficient, simple and practical porting procedures for the mobile market involves special challenges

    not generally found in other forms of portability. These include the role of retailers, the need to change SIM-card, and the

    existence of contracts related to handset subsidies.

Other important factors in designing porting procedures apply as much to other forms of portability as to mobile number

    portability, and include the method by which the user requesting a port is verified as the holder of a number, arrangements

    for communication between entities involved in porting a number during the porting process, and procedures for porting

    large quantities of numbers at one time.

7.1 Entities handling porting Requests

    Most mobile users deal exclusively with retail outlets in establishing their mobile service. Accordingly, it may seem natural

    for them to deal with retail outlets for porting their mobile number to a different operator, even though retailers may find it difficult to work with new and unfamiliar porting procedures. Table 5 summarises the entities handling porting requests.

Unless permitting particular market players to receive requests for porting of a mobile number creates particular problems,

    it makes sense to allow users the flexibility to approach various market players to request a port.

    Country Request port from Request port from Request port from

    mobile dealers mobile resellers mobile operators Austria X X X Belgium X X X Croatia X X X Cyprus X X X Denmark X X X Estonia X X Finland X X X France X X X Germany X X X Hungary X X X Iceland X Ireland X X Italy X X X Lithuania X X X Luxembourg X Malta X X X Netherlands X X X Norway X X X Portugal X Slovenia X Sweden X X X Switzerland X X X United Kingdom X X X

    Table 5: Entities from which port of mobile number may be requested

ECC REPORT 31 Page 10

7.2 Porting procedures

    Authentication An authentication procedure is usually built into porting processes to ensure that the

    person requesting that a number be ported is authorised to do so. The way in which this

    is implemented can have significant effects on the robustness of the porting process,

    how convenient it is to users, and how long it takes to complete. The most important

    variables are:

    - Whether authentication is performed via reference to account records,

    relies on some form of documentary evidence supplied by the person

    requesting the port (such as a bill), or uses some other technique;

    - Who performs the authentication for example, the entity that receives

    the porting request, or the donor network operator or service provider;

    - How communication between the various parties which are involved in

    authentication occurs for example, electronically, by fax, or by letter;

    and

    - The level of trust between the various parties involved in a porting request,

    which itself may influence the need for an effective reversal procedure in

    the event that an unauthorised porting occurs.

    A range of methods are in use or planned in 19 respondent countries, including:

    - The donor operator verifies that the person requesting a port is the same as

    the assignee of the number mentioned in the request, frequently using the

    customer‘s account number as a key this is most common method used;

    - Similar customer identification methods are employed to those used when

    a new mobile service is established;

    - The person requesting a port is asked to produce an identity card to

    authenticate their identity; and

    - A call is made to the number to be ported to minimise risk of fraudulent

    requests.

    Country Donor operator Same Identity card Call made to Any method

    verifies port authentication supplied by ported number chosen by

    requests methods as for person recipient

    new services requesting port operator Austria X X

    1Belgium X Cyprus X X X Denmark X Estonia X Finland X France X Germany X Hungary X Iceland X Ireland X Lithuania X Malta X X Netherlands X Norway X Portugal X Sweden X 122Switzerland X X X X United Kingdom X

    Table 6: Methods of authentication

    1. Recipient operator must provide power of attorney from subscriber to donor operator.

    2. For numbers of prepaid contracts

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