Number Portability Clearinghouse

Ireland

12 February 2024

Ireland’s fixed number portability solution had existed on a platform originally established way back in 1999. After 17 years, it was clear that the time had come for a change. This change finally came about in 2016, when PXS implemented their Number Portability Clearinghouse solution (NPC). We spoke with John Moore (Regulatory Compliance Manager at Imagine) and John O’Dwyer (Principal Regulatory Affairs at BT Ireland), who contributed to the project.

The Fixed Number Portability (FNP) solution in Ireland has a rich history dating back to the late 90s when the telecommunications market underwent liberalisation. Recognizing the significance of allowing customers to retain their phone numbers when switching operators, a central offline database was established in 1999.

The challenge

Over time, the original system faced challenges with accuracy and scalability, which lead to the decision to replace it. In 2016, John O’Dwyer, a key figure in the precursor to the FNP solution, highlighted the need for an updated system. He recalls: “The offline central database was fine at the time, but data was getting less reliable, and the system could not deal with any sort of volume. It was clear it needed to be replaced.”

“Data was getting less reliable, and the system could not deal with any sort of volume. It was clear it needed to be replaced.”

The task of finding a suitable vendor was undertaken by an industry working group comprising seven operators, which included John Moore and John O’Dwyer. The goal was to implement a straightforward and cost-effective solution, accessible to operators of all sizes. The key was to ensure that it would not impede new entrants. After an extensive selection process, PXS emerged as the preferred vendor.

The solution

PXS had previously implemented the Number Portability Clearinghouse in various countries, and our efficient and cost-effective solution stood out. In Ireland, we introduced a system that allowed for the porting of fixed and non-geographic numbers. 

Whilst the industry engagement took several years, the actual implementation of the PXS solution took less than six months. During this time, the industry created a working document called the IPM or Industry Process Manual, which defines the porting process. It's a document that remains dynamic to this day, continuously capturing decisions that arise from industry discussions. This allows continuous improvement.

Moreover, these improvements may involve refinements to the PXS NPC, at times requiring collaboration with PXS for the most efficient and practical solution. This means that we have a particularly good working relationship with the industry, which as the two John’s point out, “is paramount from the industry’s perspective”.

"The industry has a particularly good working relationship with PXS, which is paramount from the industry’s perspective."

John O’Dwyer emphasizes that PXS provided a straightforward platform from the start and one that never required radical changes. “It’s more about utilizing the system, rather than altering the solution itself”, he says. “We only ask for changes when we exhausted all other possibilities, or if we see benefits to enhance the capabilities of the platform.”

Besides the flexible solution, the two John’s praise the simplicity and accessibility of the platform. As John Moore explains, “To get every operator on board, there should be no bar to access. PXS provided an accessible portal, that a smaller operator can use without the need to develop. Meanwhile, a bigger operator can take the API and build their own systems around it.”

The results

Both John O’Dwyer and  John Moore concur that the FNP solution achieved all goals set by the industry working group. To quote John O’Dwyer: "They overachieved them, I would say. Over the years, I have found no instance of an outage. It works so well that you do not even consider it’s going to be a problem.”

The recent introduction of a support portal has further enhanced the user experience, with John Moore appreciating the instant engagement. “It’s so simple. Open a ticket, the system assigns a number and then the issue is followed up super-fast”, he says. “The portal also offers the option to store documents, which is useful for our IPM, as its dynamic nature means that it changes at times. The accessibility of the platform by authorised members of the industry means that it can be referenced there, along with other associated documents. That’s a real benefit for the industry.”

"Bringing simplicity to complex processes is not easy, but the PXS platform does exactly that."

John Moore concludes: “Bringing simplicity to complex processes is not easy, but the PXS platform does exactly that. I highly recommended the solution for its reliability and superb performance. On top of that, it’s cost-effective. All you have to think about, is how to use it to your advantage.”

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