Expectations for a Number Pooling Trial in
the Illinois 847 Area Code
Wireline carriers currently using number resources within the 847 NPA intend to participate in a number pooling trial on or around April 1, 1998. The trial will test the feasibility and utility of sharing blocks of numbers within the same NXX by different carriers serving customers within the same rate center or rate district. Pooling will be conducted at the thousands-block (i.e., NXX-X) level, using the AT&T NXX-X/LRN proposal. This proposal utilizes carriers' number portability architectures to route calls to numbers within the same NXX to different local service providers allotted portions of that NXX.
Participating carriers have identified the following eight attributes and characteristics deemed necessary for an effective pooling environment. Monitoring of these attributes/characteristics during the trial period, which is targeted to last six months, will be the principle means of determining the success of the trial as well as the feasibility and effectiveness of number pooling as a code conservation mechanism. Knowledge gained from this trial will assist the industry in establishing permanent procedures and guidelines for rolling out number pooling in the most efficient and reasonable manner.
1. Pooling Administrator Capabilities and Efficiencies
Illinois members of the Midwest LLC selected Lockheed Martin (L-M) as the Interim Number Pooling Administrator for the 847 trial. L-M will be responsible for managing, assigning and replenishing pooling resources within 847 during the trial period, and possibly beyond. During this period, they will be testing and refining their Numbering Resources and Workflow Management systems, which were developed to manage and oversee the pooling processes. An assessment will be made of the efficiency, level of automation, speed, accuracy and reliability of these systems. L-M administration personnel will also be assessed for their expertise, responsiveness, adherence to industry (administration) guidelines, staffing level and security measures. Such assessments will generally be reported as pass/fail, except in situations where a specific capacity level could be determined.
Specific attention will be directed towards level of adherence to the administrators responsibility as detailed within the number pooling guidelines. Such responsibilities include the following areas:
2. Service Provider Support Systems
It is generally acknowledged that number pooling will require certain changes or enhancements to service provider support systems. Such changes/enhancements may include those made to legacy systems used to support number inventory and provisioning, as well as systems more recently deployed to support number portability. Changes made to the latter may include those to shorten the transaction interval required to activate pooled numbers, and accommodate any changes to the NPAC interface, such as pooling and range indicators. During the trial period, carriers will test the efficiency, adequacy and compatibility of such changes/enhancements, and may choose to share their findings with other participating entities, especially if a problem is encountered that potentially affects other carriers.
Specific areas of Service Provider focus might include those systems used to support
3. NPAC Capabilities and Performance
It is assumed that number pooling can be accommodated by NPAC support facilities and systems without significant augmentation or change. The trial will test this premise. In addition, the trial will, by necessity, increase the volume of portability transactions, thereby allowing a more complete assessment of number portability capacities. Results of such assessments should be reported using transaction and record volumes. Specific focus will be placed upon some of the following areas:
4. LSMS/SCP Impacts
A continuing concern of some carriers is the impact of number pooling on current LSMS/SCP record storage capacities. The trial will allow individual carriers to employ either the "preport" or "activate-on-demand" methodology to populate number portability data bases with their pooled allotment. This trial will assess the overall impact of these two methodologies on carrier data base capacities, and provide some insight into how quickly those capacities might be stretched as pooling is expanded to other NPAs. The trial may also allow selected carriers an opportunity to assess enhancements made to these data bases to allow a more efficient means of representing large blocks of pooled/ported numbers (e.g., range capabilities). Reported results should include record volumes, storage rates, etc.
Areas of focus may include the following:
5. Interface Enhancements
As mentioned previously, changes to the NPAC interface are planned to provision a unique indicator for pooled (versus SPNP-ported) numbers, and a start and stop indicator for sequential ranges of pooled/ported numbers. These changes, which are planned for a mid-May release, must be accompanied by coincident changes to carriers LSMS. Interface software at both ends will need to be tested for efficiency and compatibility. Regression testing will need to be scheduled, as will tests to ensure that such enhancements are backward compatible with carriers LSMS that cannot utilize the new indicators until some time after the trial concludes.
Areas of focus may include the following:
Illinois and New York have jointly drafted a set of assignment guidelines that may accommodate a number pooling environment. It is expected that this draft will be submitted for adoption by the industry as a whole. Application of these draft guidelines, to the 847 trial, will provide insight into their efficiency and thoroughness. Emphasis may be placed on determining whether these draft guidelines sufficiently address all situations encountered during the trial. Such situations may include the following:
It is anticipated that service providers will utilize different techniques for provisioning block assignments within their number inventories. For example, some carriers will elect to utilize the pre-port methodology for populating LNP databases with the numbers as they are allotted by the pooling administrator. Other carriers may elect to utilize the activate-on-demand methodology which populates the LNP database with the number only as it is assigned/reserved for a customer. The interaction and compatibility of these methodologies will be assessed during this trial. In addition, the ability of both LNP and non LNP networks to correctly route to pooled numbers will need to be analyzed. Specific areas of interest will include the following:
It has been suggested that number pooling can significantly extend the life of an NPA by as many as several years. The trial may provide insight into the efficiencies gained with number conservation in situations whereby some carriers are still utilizing full NXXs and others utilizing pooled numbers within the same NXX. The report should include data on
We do not expect to expand these results into a prediction of the number of years number pooling could extend the life of an NPA.