WASHINGTON-The Personal Communications Industry Association last week told the Federal Communications Commission that it wanted to examine the annual budgets of the regional number portability administrators to ensure these entities operate efficiently and costs are kept down. Wireless carriers currently cannot monitor these entities because they are not allowed to be members of the limited liability corporations housing the regional number portability administrators until they begin implementing number portability next year.
Currently, all telecommunications carriers are required to contribute to the funding of the regional databases, but membership is limited to local exchange carriers. Wireless carriers are allowed to recover from their customers the assessments they pay to the administrators, but PCIA fears that without sufficient oversight the regional administrators will not keep costs down, thereby raising the assessment and its members’ costs.
The number portability administrators were created by the North American Numbering Council to take over numbering administration from the regional Bell holding companies to help promote competition. However, with only one entity administering the numbers, there is no competition for this function and no incentive to keep costs down, argued PCIA. “Without competition, there is little incentive for any business-including a regional database administrator -to control its expenses,” PCIA said in a petition for clarification filed on Wednesday at the FCC.
In addition, in the same petition, PCIA urged the FCC to clarify that one-way paging carriers are co-carriers and not end users in the number portability context so that paging companies are not charged end-user charges. The FCC has distinguished between the charges that LECs may levy on end users for number portability services and the charges that LECs may levy on other carriers for the same services.
Paging companies are concerned that since they do not have to port their customers’ numbers, LECs will treat them as residential or business customers and assess a monthly number portability surcharge on each of the paging provider’s lines. PCIA urges the FCC to clarify this misperception consistent with precedent and label paging companies as “co-carriers.”