Number Information Register

Belgium

15 January 2024

As new telecom regulations loomed, Belgian operators were looking for a better way to centrally register subscriber information. PXS came into play to implement a new number information register, better known in Belgium as the Central Number Database (CNDB). We spoke to Wim Keppens, the project’s service manager, about collaborating with PXS: “A reliable company, with a clear proposition and excellent support.”  

Keppens was involved with the Central Number Database as project manager, and currently serves as its service manager. He explains the purpose of this database: “It has two primary user groups: emergency services, who access the database for address information linked to a number, and a group that uses the database for directory service purposes.”

"PXS is a reliable company, with a clear proposition and excellent support."

The challenge

According to new regulations, every Belgian operator is required to upload all active telephone numbers with subscriber data to the Central Number Database. In light of this new situation, it was the right time to modernize the database platform, making it more future proof and scalable.

“An association of operators searched for an independent company to implement a new solution. We ultimately chose PXS”, Keppens says. “We already knew them as an expert in numbering services. They ended up on a shortlist with one other organization, but the proposition of PXS was clearer and more specific.”

"PXS communicated clearly from the start and knew what they were talking about."

Keppens explains why that factor was essential for choosing PXS: “A detailed timeline and implementation plan gives everyone a good idea of where we’re headed, and it prevents unexpected surprises. PXS communicated clearly from the start and knew what they were talking about. Along with a strong price/quality ratio, it gave us the confidence they were best suited for the project.” 

The solution

How did the new number database change, in respect to the previous one? “The interface was changed, now also offering REST-API where we only provided sFTP file processing at first. We also had to align the new solution with the regulations”, Keppens explains. “At the same time, it was requested that the dataset remained intact as much as possible, to prevent drastic system modifications.”

“With many external parties involved, that was an important factor to reduce workload”, he points out. “After all, everyone had to modify their systems to be in line with the new regulations. Since PXS is experienced in implementing central database solutions for operators and regulators, we could rely on their knowledge here.”

The contract was signed by July 2021, with a projected time to market of six months. First, the operator’s dataset was established, as well as export formats for the Emergency Service Provider (EMR) and Directory Service Providers (DSP).

"PXS is experienced in implementing central database solutions, so we could rely on their knowledge."

After doing this, the platform was configured and customized conform the established dataset, and specifications of the Belgian market. With the configuration finished, operators, EMR and DSPs were onboarded on an acceptance platform to test the system. Finally, each operator did multiple dry runs to check if their imported dataset was accepted by the platform. “This also gave them the opportunity to analyze and clean their data”, Keppens explains.

Eventually, the launch date of January 1st was moved to March 3rd. “This slight setback was not due to PXS, but had several other reasons”, Keppens points out. “For example, the actual implementation of the new law was still in progress, so we had to await the final legal requirements. On top of that, a freeze period around New Year’s had to be respected. Other than this short delay, we didn’t run into big issues.”

During the project, it was also decided to include a ‘do not call me list’ on the platform, which gives consumers control over who calls them. Besides this, subscribers can also use the Central Number Database to see which personal details are linked to their number, including their registered directory listing preferences. Operators have a separate interface, to view and manage their own records.

The results

All in all, Keppens is very pleased with the solution delivered: “Our goals have been achieved, which is also reflected in the detailed SLA reports, showing extensive statistics on database activity – both from operators, emergency services and end users. Availability of the system is also monitored and reported, which is essential for emergency service purposes.”

"I can speak for all operators when I say working with PXS is an excellent experience."

“I still have a monthly call with PXS to go through the reports and change requests. There are still new operators and service providers connecting to the database – I estimate 98% of all Belgian numbers have now been added to the database”, Keppens says. “Barely any issue comes up in our technical meetings, so there’s absolutely no reason to complain. Any support questions we might have get rapid responses. I think I can speak for all operators when I say working with PXS is an excellent experience.”

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