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Managing Editor

AT&T Wireless cites progress in number portability

Dec 10, 20033 mins
AT&TEnterprise ApplicationsGovernment

AT&T Wireless this week said it is making “significant” progress implementing local number portability (LNP) after the FCC requested an explanation from the carrier on why it was experiencing more trouble with it than others.

AT&T Wireless said software improvements enable it to now port numbers to and from its network in times on a par with other carriers – and in some cases in just a few hours. Published reports state that AT&T Wireless was taking up to a week or longer to port numbers, and only 40% of porting requests were being fulfilled.

More than half of the 600 porting problem reports the FCC received in LNP’s first three weeks involved AT&T Wireless, the reports said.

The carrier now says it is responding to more than 75% of requests in 30 minutes or less.

“The extreme complexities and radical interdependencies of LNP have challenged our entire industry,” said Michael Keith, AT&T Wireless’ president of mobility services, in a statement. “Unfortunately, the first group of customers who have tried moving their wireless numbers to a different carrier have had a frustrating experience.”

AT&T Wireless said the porting system used by other major wireless carriers experienced periodic outages in the weeks prior to the implementation of LNP, which inhibited the ability of AT&T Wireless’ vendor to test its software.

“Neither we nor our industry have all the issues licked yet, but we are making steady, solid progress in these early days of an unprecedented process,” Keith stated.

AT&T Wireless was scheduled to detail its progress in a letter to the FCC on Dec. 10. The letter documents ways in which AT&T Wireless has cleared up problems it discovered in third-party software it uses as a clearinghouse for porting requests from other carriers, the carrier says. AT&T Wireless’s clearinghouse software vendor is NeuStar, of Sterling, Va.

The software was slow to acknowledge requests from other carriers to move a customer’s number to them, which created a bottleneck because it is the first step in the LNP process, according to Keith.

NeuStar says there’s plenty of blame to go around. 

“On Nov. 24 (LNP’s first day) and the days that followed, the industry experienced great difficulty in processing portability transactions due to industry-wide issues with systems, OSS services, processes and training,” a NeuStar spokeperson says. “No single company was to blame.

“The technical descriptions in the AT&T response (to the FCC) are unfortunately being misinterpreted,” the spokesperson adds. “The initial issues were primarily with the capacity of the system set-up, not any fundamental problem with NeuStar’s software. And resources were immediately brought to bear to increase the capacity of the system to handle the unprecedented / unexpected volume – faster systems were installed, additional systems were installed, additional I/O capacity was brought to bear, etc. Things are now working.”

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

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