YOU ARE AT:Archived ArticlesINDUSTRY WARNS FEDS AGAINST EXCLUDING IT FROM PORTABILITY PLAN

INDUSTRY WARNS FEDS AGAINST EXCLUDING IT FROM PORTABILITY PLAN

WASHINGTON-The wireless industry cautioned federal regulators against adopting a number portability implementation plan until key competitive issues are addressed.

While the wireless industry is represented on the North American Numbering Council, there is concern that procedures for putting number portability in place are based solely on wireline assumptions in some cases.

Number portability would allow customers to keep their phone numbers when changing carriers, the kind of flexibility that will become more critical as wireless carriers and others compete for a share of the $100 billion local telephone market.

But, for the wireless industry, securing benefits of number portability and accessibility to numbers may prove difficult given the Baby Bell telephone companies’ historical lock on the valuable resource.

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association recently told the Federal Communications Commission that “the NANC must refine portions of its recommendations to take into consideration concerns of the wireless industry,” and urged regulators to “refrain from adopting any assumptions or directives recommended by the NANC that discriminate against the wireless industry.”

In particular, CTIA noted that a NANC-generated report on technical and operation requirements for local number portability failed to address key wireless issues such as how to account for differences between wireless and wireline service area boundaries and how portability will work with roaming.

“A wireline solution that does not include wireless networks will not achieve the commission’s goals of interoperability and nondiscrimination,” stated CTIA. The trade group said that with wireless carriers required to be capable of delivering calls to ported numbers by Dec. 31, 1998, compared with the wireline carriers phased-in deployment of number portability in the largest 100 markets by Oct. 1, 1997, the potential exists for wireless calls to be unnecessarily blocked in the process. CTIA urged that the process for selecting the local portability administrator not exclude wireless carriers.

For sure, number portability involves a complex web of technical, economic and competitive issues that have yet to be fully sorted out. “If you don’t have numbers, you don’t have customers,” remarked Mary Madigan of the Personal Communications Industry Association.

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