Back in 2014, iconectiv (formerly known as Telcordia) was awarded the contract to administer the new Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC), the database that is not only used to make sure all phone calls and text messages are coursed directly to the right phone number, but also to handle the assignment of numbers to carriers. We say the “new” NPAC because the database was previously administered by Neustar, but after a 2010 review, iconectiv got the job, and is now set to begin the database migration in April 8th of this year.
Leading industry analyst Mark Lowenstein, however, has expressed some concerns with regards to the upcoming number portability database migration happening in less than a couple of months. Writing for FierceWireless, Lowenstein has outlined three things that should be addressed before the migration commences.
The first issue Lowenstein raised has everything to do with ensuring that the database remains intact during the migration process, and making sure data failures are minimized or eliminated altogether. According to his article, the transfer will involve around 12 billion data elements, and given the fact that NPAC routinely deals with about 1.8 million transactions on a daily basis, any problem encountered during the migration will likely impact end users. Not only that, communications from public safety agencies could also be affected if there are issues during the transition.
Secondly, Lowenstein also revealed that he has received some feedback from several carriers who are worried about the timeline. With the migration set to happen in the early part of April, these operators believe there might not be enough time to conduct extensive testing.
Lastly, the industry analyst has observed that there seems to be no arrangement for a rollback to the current NPAC, if ever the April transition process will encounter some major issues. Although there is a current provision for a “manual” rollback, this paper-based, non-digital solution has problems of its own (not to mention it might take forever). Apparently, the absence of a rollback provision had not gone unnoticed by Ajit Pai, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Pai had already requested the main actors of the migration project to give him a status report last week.
Lowenstein also mentioned that the NPAC might need some updating. Right now, the system makes full use of PSTN (public switched telephone network) and TDM (time-division multiplexing) routing, but it might be better off shifting to an IP-based system so that it can include support for software, cloud-based platforms, network virtualization, RCS (rich communications services), and OTT (over-the-top), among many other services.