Porting features (and skirmishes)

 

By Simon Woodhead

One of our areas of focus at the moment is automation and porting has been getting some love, as our volumes continue to accelerate. Many of the resulting tools and processes are internal to us and our team really appreciate those of you who have observed the improved turn-around times in our Community Slack. There’s lots more to come.

When it comes to exports, i.e. you losing customers to other operators, these have always been much more manual as, frankly, we don’t do a lot! However, a low volume of high input tasks eventually sticks out and so we’re whacking that particular mole today. Within the long-standing carrier services portal (and of course the underlying API) you can now add specific contacts for ‘exports’. These are the email addresses you want us to notify of export requests for you to accept or reject. Please populate these ASAP although we have attempted to do so for you where our team has historically manually sent to another address. We use the default address where a contact isn’t specified for a particular notification category.

Meanwhile, it seems to be Amateur Hour elsewhere in the industry and we need to respond to ensure our customers have a level playing field. POV requests are a ridiculously clunky process that’ll probably end abruptly when a wife-beater abuses it to find out where his estranged wife lives, but we’re not the Regulator so don’t know about these things, and it is, at the end of the day, what we have got. We, in common with other professional operators, have taken a fairly pragmatic approach to them in that if we host ranges for a CP, we not only include those under our porting agreements (generally) but we also respond to POV requests. This means that hundreds of customers don’t have to join the scheme individually and our peers don’t have to mess around sending POV requests and porting requests to multiple different places. Sensible right?

Sadly, there are those who seek to provide rocks under which the less fair CPs can hide. BT’s Scenario 7 is one such rock, enabling scrotes to effectively block number portability outside the BT reseller eco-system. We’ve aired this particular gripe ad-nauseum with the Regulator so I won’t repeat it here, but POVs seem to be an emerging vector for similar behaviour. To be clear though, this issue isn’t with BT who actually have a good POV team.

Rather than respond for their numbers, as a Rangeholder who has enrolled in the scheme, and rather than responding for the CPs they host as the party we have the porting agreement with, this network are conveniently refusing to respond where their customer has not opted in to their own internal scheme. That’s completely invisible to anyone outside their organisation and not to mention utterly asymmetric for the rest of the industry. If they send us a POV for one of your numbers, we’ll help; if we send them one for a number you want to port, they will likely reject it. That just isn’t fair play. Of course, they say they encourage their customers to join the POV scheme directly, but why would they when they can get POVs processed for customers won through them, meaning direct membership only serves for them to lose customers?

Effective today, I have given our porting team rules of engagement which are entirely reciprocal. For the larger professional networks, we will carry on doing the right thing, above and beyond, as we always have. For the network (and any future networks) who choose to play games when you win customers from their CPs, we will respond in kind to remove their unfair advantage. These rules of engagement remain fluid and we’ll of course resume treating them professionally when they choose to behave as such.

If only we had a Regulator.