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July 06, 2009

VoIP and Number Portability: Tipping Point Approaches

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor


The VoIP industry is reaching a tipping point in number portability, so that traditional telephony service providers – who rely on a guide that provides data to help them route calls over the PSTN – are porting up to 25 percent of all numbers to different carriers.
 
According to Jim Dalton, the chief executive officer of TransNexus – an Atlanta-based company that provides software for least-cost routing, traffic reporting, profitability analysis and billing for VoIP networks – misrouted calls still get completed, so end-users do not realize that there’s a service issue.
 
“But the service provider gets stuck with a termination charge larger than necessary because the call was not routed to the lowest cost provider,” Dalton told TMC President Rich Tehrani in an interview, printed in full below. “TransNexus (News - Alert) will be releasing a new version of its free OSPrey routing server which will include the ability to host locally, or query, the U.S. number portability database managed by NeuStar.”
 
It’s a topic that Dalton is speaking on during a talk at ITEXPO West, to be held in Los Angeles from Sept. 1 to 3.
 
During his interview with Tehrani, Dalton also discussed potential business opportunities in this down economy and the possibility that the “new” Federal Communications Commission may appear to reverse a trend where it favors major telephone companies over smaller, more innovative firms.
 
Their exchange follows.
 
Rich Tehrani (News - Alert): What has the economic crisis taught you, and how has it changed your customers?
 
Jim Dalton (pictured left): If you are not over-leveraged, then an economic downturn can actually create new opportunities as competitors and customers adjust to their businesses’ lower revenue and lower profit margins.
 
RT: How is this down economy affecting your decisions to reinvest in your company or market, if at all? Where will you invest?
 
JD: We are fortunate that in our niche of the VoIP market, demand is still growing. We are hiring engineering staff, but keeping all other expenses flat.
 
RT: What’s the strongest segment in the communications industry?
 
JD: Wireless.
 
RT: With the rise of smartphones and netbooks, many wireless technologies, such as WiFi (News - Alert), appear to be poised for rapid growth. For example, we’re seeing more and more airlines add in-flight WiFi. In general, how widespread should WiFi be, in your view?
 
JD: I don’t know how widespread WiFi should be, but I hope it becomes universally available. WiFi is an inexpensive and reliable network access technology that anyone can provide. All other forms of wireless network access are controlled by spectrum license holders. WiFi offers hope for a competitive market of public network access.
 
RT: Which nation or region of the world will present the largest opportunity for your company in 2009/10?
 
JD: We serve customers around the world, but our best market is the United States.
 
RT: In what ways is President Barack Obama helping or hindering the technology markets? What more can he do?
 
JD: For this question, our perspective is limited to observations of FCC policy. In this regard, I think the FCC under the Obama administration will do more to encourage competition and innovation. For the last eight years, the FCC appeared to favor the policies of major telephone companies over smaller more innovative firms. I think this is changing, but it is still too early to be certain.
 
RT: What device or devices do you use, and what do you wish you used?
 
JD: I like to keep it simple. I use a laptop and it is all I need.
 
RT: I understand you are speaking during ITEXPO West, to be held Sept. 1 to 3 in Los Angeles. Describe your talk and tell us what companies or people should attend.
 
JD: I will be giving a tutorial on number portability and why it is important for all VoIP service providers. Telephony service providers have always relied on the Local Exchange Routing Guide for routing. VoIP service providers still use the LERG today to translate routing based on “Local Access & Transport Area” and “Operating Company Number” because the rate schedules they get from their providers are quoted in terms of LATA and OCN. However, we are now reaching a tipping point in number portability.
 
By some estimates, 25 percent of all numbers in the LERG have been ported to a different carrier. This means that traditional routing using the LERG without number portability correction causes up to 25 percent of all calls to be misrouted. Misrouted calls still get completed, so the end users do not realize a service issue. But the service provider gets stuck with a termination charge larger than necessary because the call was not routed to the lowest cost provider. TransNexus will be releasing a new version of its free OSPrey routing server which will include the ability to host locally, or query, the U.S. number portability database managed by NeuStar.
 
RT: Why should customers choose your company’s solutions? How do they justify the expense to management?
 
JD: We see two reasons why customers choose the TransNexus solution. First, we have been focused on developing software for VoIP routing and accounting since 1997. Few companies can match our experience and focus. TransNexus is not a start-up that will disappear when the funding runs out. We are here to stay. Also, we have a proven track record and are certified partners with leading VoIP vendors such as Acme Packet, Cisco and MetaSwitch (News - Alert). The second reason is price. We have always kept our expenses low so we can offer what I believe are the most competitive prices in the industry for sophisticated VoIP routing and reporting software.
 

Learn more about TransNexus at ITEXPO West — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year. ITEXPO (News - Alert) West will take place in Los Angeles, Sept. 1 to 3, 2009, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Don’t wait. Register now!


Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan



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