Porting - Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Porting has evolved in the last 25+ years.  10x People has watched early assumptions prove limiting and new use cases arise that were not considered at its inception.  Number portability has come a long way from the “I want to change my carrier but keep my number” days. Take a trip with us down memory lane with a look to the future. 

In the Beginning, there was Wireline

The FCC mandated Number Portability in the Telecommunications Act of 1996.  Its purpose was to enable competition in the marketplace and the rise of the CLECs. An NPAC system was implemented in the seven Regional Bell Operating Company (RBOC) regions.  One for Pacific Bell, Ameritech, Southwestern Bell, Bellsouth, US West, Bell Atlantic, and Nynex.  The initial porting volumes were based on the assumption that most of the porting volume would be business customers porting their number ranges, with only 20% being single TN ports.  A rate of 2-TNs per second was calculated to support this volume.  Unexpectedly, single ports quickly became popular as cable companies entered the market, offering consumers the “triple play” of TV, internet, and local home phone service.  This completely upset the range ports assumption. 

Enter the Wireless Carriers

In 2002 the FCC required wireless players to support number portability.  The wireless carriers worked to put a process in place to begin porting in 2003. The number of single ports accelerated as cell phones became a part of everyday life.  Carriers fought for customers by evolving their mobile service plans, including changes from per-minute charges, to tiered buckets of minutes, to unlimited talk time.  Likewise, texting experienced similar pricing patterns (we all remember those news stories of parents seeing $1000+ cell phone bills because their teenagers were racking up charges at 10 cents per text message).

As wireless usage grew more ubiquitous, Intermodal porting, that is, porting between wireless and wireline carriers, became popular as customers began cutting the home phone cord and taking their home phone numbers mobile.  Some consumers wished to keep their home phone, and the cable companies partnered with the wireless carriers to offer the “quad-play” (home phone over coax, TV, internet, and wireless from their wireless partner).  With the increase of the triple play and quad play, the cable companies pushed for a shorter porting interval, and in 2011 the industry adopted the “one-day simple port,” thereby allowing consumers to experience shorter timelines to transition to their TV displaying caller ID information as they were watching the news or a TV show.

Home phone usage, whether traditional copper, coax, or fiber to the home, has continued to decrease year over year as family members, both young and old, have now moved to a mobile device, especially with the introduction of the smartphone.

Network Management via Porting

Porting volumes began to rise as porting was used to perform network grooming/load balancing/routing unrelated to consumers.  Providers could change calling name (CNAM) providers, update new optional fields related to a number, and groom their networks by sending traffic to different LRNs for different switches. 

When consolidations started, porting numbers from disparate networks onto the same network increased volumes.  All four major nationwide wireless providers had acquisitions that resulted in large porting events.  

Want to use my Network?  

In walked the wholesalers who provide networks to other service providers or large business customers.  Not only were large customers moving between carriers, but virtual network providers began buying telephone numbers they could assign. 

DDoS Attack Recovery

With the introduction of cloud-based communications, service providers began using VoIP technology to offer service.  The ability to establish a telephony network quickly gave rise to this new type of provider.  However, like many other things operating over the internet, vulnerabilities were exposed.  Fortunately, VoIP providers under DDoS attacks or having network issues could use porting to change routing.  In our current ecosystem with legacy providers, there is no way to move traffic to respond to this type of event quickly.  LERG changes are distributed at most daily.  Some providers only update their LERG every week, month or quarter. 

What’s next?

The industry has just completed an increased load activity in production (11-TNs per second), the first increase activity in over 10 years, and volume and speed are expected to rise.  This might seem slow in today’s real-time world, but many legacy networks still can’t deal with provisioning at that rate.  Looking forward, porting will continue to evolve to meet industry needs.  VoIP networks will replace legacy networks.  New use cases, such as bifurcation data from voice, will leverage available systems/resources.  There is no end to creativity in the marketplace.  

Have no doubt 10x People will continue to advocate for you, partner with you, and evolve our products to meet your needs!

History info:

  • The NPAC supports emerging technologies and is the only number portability system that supports multiple communications technologies in a single repository.
    • 1998—wireline number porting begins
    • 1999—wireline number pooling introduced
    • 2000—intra-carrier pooling for network maintenance began
    • 2002—wireless number pooling implemented; began supporting customer technology migrations
    • 2003—wireless, intermodal (between wireline and wireless), and wireless inter-carrier porting begins
    • 2007—interconnected VoIP porting begins
    • 2010—IP fields implemented
    • 2011—one-day simple port porting required for small carriers