For over 100 years, Ma Bell, sometimes called the “Bell System” or currently known as “AT&T”,
controlled almost all telecommunications in the United States. Once the largest company in the
world with over one million employees, the company consisted of 22 local Bell companies (including
New York Telephone and Ohio Bell), AT&T Long Lines (the long distance division), as well
as Western Electric (the subsidiary that manufactured telephone equipment), and Bell Labs (one
of the premier research organizations in the world).
In 1984, because of the monopoly AT&T had over phone service, the company was broken-up
and the local Bell phone companies were divvied up among seven companies called “Regional
Bell Operating Companies” (RBOCs). These seven independent Regional Bell Operating Companies
were: AmeriTech, Bell Atlantic, BellSouth, NYNEX, Pacific Telesis, Southwestern Bell and US
West. The seven RBOCs controlled the circulation and distribution of all telephone numbers in
their respective territories. This drove long distance service competition, which created the need
to tie a telephone number to a long distance service provider.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was enacted to ignite competition in the telecommunications
industry. It was the first major modernization of the law governing telecommunications in
the U.S. since 1934. Key provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 included:
Local Number Portability that allows end-users to change service providers and retain their telephone number(s).
Preemption that allowed the FCC to expropriate state or local legal requirements that served as
barriers to entry in the provision of interstate or intrastate telecommunications service.
Interconnectedness that required incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) and new entrants
to connect their networks and create terms, conditions, and rates that would not erode competition.
Intercarrier compensation is needed to charge and invoice for calls that take place using different
networks. In the United States, the caller’s carrier commonly pays the called party’s carrier
for executing the call.
RBOCs may introduce long distances to spur competition in the local and long-distance markets.
Wholesale access to ILECs’ network gave new businesses access to cost-based, wholesale rates and bought them time to complete their own networks.
Universal service support made definitive to guarantee rules and regulations are in place to
aid in the availability of telephone service throughout the United States.
From 1947 until the late 1990’s, only a handful of various NPA-NXX combinations were appointed
to carriers in the United States. With the advent of new service providers (including the introduction
of wireless carriers), the need for additional NPA/NXX combinations rose dramatically. In response to this demand, pooling was introduced and the industry as a whole moved to a framework that required in excess of 10 digits for each phone number so as to expand the supply of these codes.
The FCC issued a report on numbering asset usage in the U.S. that prescribed “thousands-block
number pooling”. Verifiably, every one of the 10,000 phone numbers related to a central office
code was doled out to a solitary service provider. Numerous providers were too small to utilize
all 10,000 numbers, while bigger providers required extra numbers. Pooling was introduced to
permit the 10,000 numbers related with a central office code to be broken into ten successive
blocks of 1,000 numbers each, making it conceivable to dole out just a single central office code
to oblige various bearers serving a similar rate zone. Service providers are presently required to
investigate their number usage and to give unused or underutilized blocks of phone numbers to
the National Pooling Administrator, with the goal that the extra blocks can be allocated to different
carriers needing numbers.
Under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) wireless local number portability
rules, you can switch wireless carriers and keep your current telephone number within the same
local geographical zone where it is presently appointed. The FCC also introduced intermodal
porting between wireline and wireless carriers, which means you have the capacity to change
from a wireline carrier to a wireless carrier, or from a wireless carrier to a wireline carrier while
still keeping your telephone number. On November 24, 2003, wireless carriers in the main 100
Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs, or areas with a large centralized population based on data
from the U.S. Census Bureau) were required to adopt this program.
Outside of the main 100 MSAs, one of two rules apply, whichever is later: Wireless carriers must
be equipped for executing wireless LNP six months subsequent to accepting a demand from the
client’s planned new carrier – or- Wireless carriers must be equipped for executing wireless LNP
six months after November 24, 2003 (May 2004 for the rest of the nation).
On March 26, 2015 the FCC affirmed Telcordia Technologies, Inc. dba iconectiv as the following
Local Number Portability Administrator (LNPA) in all U.S. regions, succeeding Neustar. This decision
became effective after the FCC issued its official conclusion affirming the proposal of the
North American Number Council (NANC) in which iconectiv would fill in as the following LNPA
(FCC 16-92) on July 25, 2016.
The progression was set to start in March 2018, beginning with law enforcement, public safety
agencies, and organizations that must consent to the country’s Telephone Consumer Protection
Act (TCPA). Once the principal effective cut-over was made, particular U.S. districts were
to go with the same pattern. On April 9, 2018, iconectiv declared the successful cut-over of the
Southeast Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC) Region. On May 7, 2018, iconectiv
declared the successful cut-over of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest NPAC Regions. On
May 21, 2018, iconectiv reported the final, successful cut-over of the Southwest, Western, and
West Coast NPAC Regions. Finally, on May 29, 2018, NAPM reported that iconectiv had effectively
finished the transition to the new LNPA. With no regulated arrangement for a “rollback”
to the current NPAC, if for reasons unknown there were issues with the cut-over, the only real
safeguard for potential issues was a manual rollback which would be both time-consuming and
risky. iconectiv had a single chance to successfully perform this transition and they accomplished
exactly that. This was a tremendous achievement in the industry.
1996: Telecommunications Act of 1996 was signed into law
1996: FCC First Report and Order, Docket 95-116, provided the regulatory guidelines to
make LNP possible
1997: LRN method ratified by the FCC as the true industry standard
1997: Request for Proposal released for the NPAC Service Management System to aid in
the implementation of Number Portability in one Chicago, Illinois, Local Access &
Transport Area (LATA)
1997: Seven U.S. databases established corresponding with the seven original Bell Operating
Company Regions. First number successfully ported in Maryland
1997: Neustar (then CIS, an operating division of Lockheed Martin) becomes the sole administrator
of NPAC services for all seven RBOCs and the Canadian LNP Consortium
1998: Canada NPAC founded
1998: LNP implemented in the top 100 MSAs by the end of 1998; outside of the top 100
MSAs, a service provider must enable LNP after receiving a request to do so
2003: Wireless number portability implemented
2015: FCC approves Telcordia Technologies, Inc. dba iconectiv function as the next Local
Number Portability Administrator (LNPA) for all Regions (FCC 15-35)
2016: FCC releases its final decision approving the endorsement of the North American
Numbering Council iconectiv to serve as the next LNPA (FCC 16-92)
2018: NAPM declares that iconectiv has proficiently completed the transition to the new LNPA
2018: FCC announces further steps taken toward National Number Portability (NNP), including
the elimination of the “dialing parity” rule and easing of the “N-1” rule