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Commission releases draft determination

Issued 12 May 2005 / 129

Telecommunications Act – Commission releases draft determination on number portability functions and standards

The Commission today released a draft determination setting out the functions and standards of the system for local and cellular telephone number portability. This decision complements an earlier draft determination on the allocation of the costs of number portability implementation.

Number portability makes it easier for customers to switch telecommunications service providers by allowing customers to keep their existing telephone numbers when changing their local or cellular access supplier.

The Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum (‘TCF’) is developing a centralised database for ported telephone numbers. Carriers will be required to connect to the database, and implement changes to their networks and business processes to provide local and cellular telephone number portability consistent with the final determination. The TCF has indicated these changes mean that industry-wide local and cellular telephone number portability will be available in April 2007.

“Significant progress has been made by the TCF in developing an industry-wide number portability solution” said Douglas Webb, Telecommunications Commissioner. “However I have sought clarification from the industry whether there is any scope to bring forward the availability date”.

A copy of the Commission’s draft determination is available on the website, www.comcom.govt.nz, select Telecommunications Regulation, Multi-network determinations.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Number portability enables customers to keep their existing local or cellular telephone numbers when changing their local or cellular access suppliers.

The Commission issued a draft determination on 6 December 2004 setting out the Commission’s view on the formula for the allocation of the costs of Number Portability Services amongst the industry, following a multiparty application on 26 March 2003 for determination in respect of the Number Portability Services (the ‘Cost Allocation Application’).

On 24 December 2004, the Commission received a second application (the ‘Functions Application’ in respect of Number Portability Services from Telecom New Zealand Limited, TelstraClear Limited and Vodafone New Zealand Limited, under section 31(a) of the Act, requesting that the Commission determine terms relating to the functions that must be performed by a system for delivering the Number Portability Services and the standard to which those functions must be performed.

The application requested that the Commission make a determination under section 31(a) of the Act that is in the form of the draft Network Code and the draft LMNP Code and for the areas that have not been agreed to seek submissions from the applicants and make a determination in respect of those matters accordingly.

On 5 April 2005, the Commission issued a procedural Order under section 9(6) of the Act, confirming that a single multinetwork determination relating to both the Cost Allocation and the Functions Applications would be released.

In determining the Functions Application, the Commission is required to ensure that the determination will serve to promote competition in telecommunications markets for the long-term benefit of end-users of telecommunications services within New Zealand.

In respect of those terms that the Applicants have been unable to reach agreement on, the Commission’s view is that:

the local telephone number portability service may extend to the porting of a local telephone number between a fixed network and a cellular network, where the cellular network provides a fixed wireless telephone service;

- the processes set out in section 15 of the Network Terms dealing with exemptions are sufficiently robust to deal with all aspects (and not just equivalent service) of the Network Terms and any resultant pass-through to the LMNP Terms;

- a requirement that limits the porting of local telephone numbers to within a local calling area, without requiring that the service is provided over a consistent set of attributes, is consistent with the description of the local telephone number portability service under the Act (which supports local telephone number porting between fixed telephone networks services within a geographically defined area);

- the provisions enabling an appointed enforcement agency to issue notices of breach, and in particular publicly censuring a party to the determination for non-compliance, provides an appropriate balance between the enforcement agency’s role where a party is non-compliant with the service levels and equivalent service criteria, and the ability of a party to the determination to seek enforcement of the determination through the High Court under section 61 of the Act;

- it is not necessary for the dispute resolution procedures to apply where disagreement arises regarding a decision as to whether an approved exemption exempts a carrier from meeting its obligations;

- and in respect of the termination of internationally originated SMS, providers of cellular telephone services should be required to provide equivalent service to end-users when cellular telephone number portability becomes available.

For the purpose of the draft determination, the Commission has addressed contextual inconsistencies in the structure and wording of the draft codes. Where terms are capitalised in this draft determination and are not defined, this draft determination adopts the definitions that are outlined in the draft LMNP Terms and Network Terms.

The Commission considers that the appropriate date of inception for the determination is the date of the determination.

The Commission’s view is that the final determination, insofar as it relates to Local Number Portability should expire on the earlier of— (a) 19 December 2010; or (b) the date on which the Local Number Portability ceases to have designated multinetwork service status because it has either— (i) expired under section 65; or (ii) been omitted from Schedule 1 under section 66.

The Commission’s view is that the final determination, insofar as it relates to Cellular Number Portability should expire on the earlier of— (a) 19 December 2010; or (b) the date on which the Cellular Number Portability service ceases to have designated multinetwork service status because it has either— (i) expired under section 65; or (ii) been omitted from Schedule 1 under section 66.

Access providers are required to provide Number Portability Services consistent with this determination not later than 1 April 2007.

ENDS

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