The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to prepare for nationwide number portability, and has implemented a pair of significant changes this week. Currently, consumers are not able to fully port a number to any wireless or wireline provider, so the watchdog is modifying rules that were designed for an older market structure of separate local and long-distance calling. The changes adopted today include:
• Elimination of the last vestiges of the ‘dialling parity’ rule, which was intended to ensure that consumers could choose and access a stand-alone long-distance provider without dialling extra digits. However, stand-alone long-distance service is disappearing with the rise of all-distance plans, VoIP and wireless, and in 2015 the FCC eliminated the rule for most local providers.
• Providing flexibility in call routing by easing the ‘N-1’ rule that currently requires the next-to-last carrier in a call – typically the long-distance provider – to query the number portability database. The modification allows other carriers in the chain to query the database. This will open new opportunities for call routing as the industry prepares for nationwide number portability.