Number Portability Data – Why Voice Carriers should now be using it.

11th May 2020

As an industry, few are better or more efficient at making the most out of wafer-thin margins per session than the international telecommunications carriers. These organisations have for decades made money by being able to effectively route calls via the lowest cost routes, and been able to adapt their preferred routing algorithms constantly to cope with ever-fluctuating prices in the market.

However, for a variety of reasons these same organisations are walking away from potentially material savings on their Mobile telephony and messaging termination costs, for the lack of easy-to-obtain number intelligence. As we know, today a subscriber can move networks but retain their number in over 100 countries around the World, a right that some have enjoyed for more than a decade. Where this is possible, terminating a voice call based upon the original owner of the number called can be a deeply flawed strategy. It wouldn’t matter so much if everything worked like the golden era of voice communications, where the costs to transit and terminate networks were broadly the same, fuelled by bi-lateral agreements between large carriers. Nowadays however, it can be anything but, with very different charges for transit and termination if you happen to guess incorrectly.

Up to now, voice carriers have been able to exist with a false sense of security, because voice calls will (generally) be delivered even if their first routing decision is not the correct one. For carriers who send Application 2 Person (A2P) SMS messages however, there has been no such luxury. Incorrect routing may result in the message being delayed; bad if you are a ride-share company confirming a car is outside; not arrive at all, or arrive with a much higher price than expected. Therefore, these A2P providers have long been using Number Portability lookup services such as TMT Velocity to zero in on the right termination network before sending the message, something that all carriers could learn from.

Why is the time right for voice carriers to use NP data?

The time has probably been right for some time already, but a number of factors are coming into play:

  • In some developed markets, the percentage of numbers which have ported over time is approaching or in some cases has exceeded 50%. Therefore there is a better than even chance that by applying number range routing algorithms you are sending traffic to the incorrect network.
  • Charging models are evolving, where the costs of ‘getting it wrong’ are increasing, together with the evolution of new mechanisms such as origin-based charging etc. that put further pressure on carriers to ‘know before you go’
  • A2P SMS. Set against the backdrop of declining volumes for calls and messages, A2P SMS is becoming an increasingly important revenue stream for operators. Therefore, carriers are increasing recognising what the messagehubs have known for some time, that successful delivery relies on enhanced routing knowledge to be successful, and your customers will not tolerate the late or non-delivery of messages.
  • As the telephony world makes more and more use of the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), it is possible for carriers to integrate this easily with a (fast) number resolution process before establishing a call.
  • Services like TMT Velocity, which offer highly accurate results for over 80 countries in less than 5ms are available on the market and being tested and used millions of times per day. Companies like TMT have solved the issue of dealing with individual regulators in each country, to ingest databases from around the World and offer a one-stop-shop for carriers who can query potentially globally from a single API.

Carriers already using the TMT Velocity service have seen improvements of between 3 and 5 percent on their overall mobile termination costs, plus the harder-to-measure benefits of improved customer satisfaction. Some carriers have also taken advantage of the SIP redirect service offered by TMT Velocity, so that they can seamlessly integrate number portability lookup into their SIP callflow, with no additional development on their side.

Why not talk to TMT Analysis about how to improve your margins and efficiency today? Email us at

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