This is an exciting time for the telecommunications industry and consumers. We are experiencing a transition of the PSTN to an all IP network and services which, over the next 10 years, will be unprecedented in the history of telecommunications.  The transition will take many forms: core network technology migrations from TDMA to IP, massive changes to back-office systems as core requirements like CALEA and E911 are replicated to operate on new technologies and, most importantly, the introduction of new services that will revolutionize the way we communicate, conduct business and access information. We are entering a world where devices, networks and services will operate seamlessly through an all IP environment with greater efficiency and providing a platform for future innovation.

Yankee Group VP of Research Jennifer Pigg took a close look at this transition to IP in a recently released white paper prepared for Neustar, Transitioning the PSTN to IP: What’s in a Number?, which examines the central role that numbering and the Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC) will play in this transition.  Since the advent of Local Number Portability, the 10-digit Telephone Number has emerged as the only single identifier available to consumers and businesses that is a) globally unique, b) portable between service providers, c) easy to use across technology platforms and d) extensible to support secure authentication and verification. The demand for telephone numbers continues to outpace population growth, and over the last decade they have emerged as the only consumer alias that conveys across communications, social media, commerce, public safety and secure authentication services.

As a result, the administration and portability of telephone numbers are central to PSTN – IP transition.

Future of Numbering in an IP World

Looking to the future, the white paper finds that meeting the challenges of an increasingly IP world requires new ways of looking at the assignment, administration and authentication of telephone numbers.  Portability is here to stay, and all the more critical for today’s consumers – but there’s more.  The white paper stressed a few key points:

  • The telephone number will continue as the unifying customer identifier throughout PSTN to IP conversion.  It will remain the key identifier for called and calling parties, and will remain central to the consumer experience as new products and services are adopted.
  • The industry will need bold thinking to maintain the health and value of the North American Numbering Plan, particularly in the areas of network interconnection, inventory conservation and security on the all-IP network.
  • To execute the transition with minimal disruption to enterprises and consumers, carriers will be well-served to build upon the principles already in place, like broad industry participation, centrally administered technology and neutrality

The white paper, concludes by finding that the NPAC and local number portability are essential to more than just telecom competition — they are a vital asset as the industry moves ever closer to more individualized, tailored services in an all-IP environment.

 This is the third paper authored by the Yankee Group to describe the value of number portability and the NPAC.  The first, titled Telephone Numbers Are Portable; Is the NPAC? examines the history and current role of Number Portability in the United States.  The second, Number Portability Through the Global Lens, describes local number portability implementations in six diverse countries, to see how their experiences compare to the success of number portability in the U.S.

Download the full white paper: Transitioning the PSTN to IP: What’s in a Number?