Segregate Service Provision from Network Operation and use Universal Numbering Plan.

Segregate Service Provision from Network Operation and use Universal Numbering Plan to usher in for Multi-media Telecom services. 

                                       Dated 17 Nov 2011.

Introduction: In spite of the few hiccups in the beginning, privatization has pushed Telecom business in India making the services available and affordable to common man. However, giving license to more and more companies would not be ideal at this point of time.

There was a time the monopoly telecom provider could not meet the needs of a growing country. Things have changed; there are enough Service Providers now who can jointly meet the challenges. However, too many new Networks will put pressure on the business viability of the industry in terms of redundant systems and networks needing very high CAPEX/OPEX, availability and restrictions of spectrum etc. Low returns and margins will kill the initiative to innovate and provide more products, features and facilities without increase in cost of usage.

Another important aspect is that with rolling out High Bit rate Data and multi-media products, the distinction between Wired and Wireless systems will slowly vanish. This is because with Multi-Megabit networks, the Wireless portion of the network will become less and less and the Wired network comprising OF linkage etc., will be the back bone of both Wired and Wireless networks in long haul as well as short haul and the last  mile connectivity till the end links which will be modern WiMax or WiFi links.

Facts of future being so, there is scope of Virtual Mobile networks VMN by more Service Providers sharing common Systems and Network, so as to bring down the CAPEX and OPEX, and more revenue for the existing owners of the Systems /  Networks.   Also it is worthwhile to look at the amount of foreign exchange outflow for redundant multiple Switching systems, Billing systems and VAS and more importantly the Wireless towers and infrastructure for the Networks individually being provided by every Service Provider for their business.

Therefore, now is the time to bring in more and more Companies that can provide  OFC network and System for back bone needed for a fast growing Multi-media communication system across the country.  As OF connectivity to remotely rural areas is going to take considerable time, it is necessary to link these areas with Satellite links  as a short term measure.

1.1. Segregation of Telecom Service provision and Telecom Network operation will be the better business option. 

Managing the Telecom Business and running of Telecom Networks are entirely different ball games.  The business becomes more viable by limiting the number of networks in an area for better utilization of resources and at minimal investment costs.

To avoid crowding of networks in low potential areas, every company need not have their own network operation everywhere but shall be possible to mutually share the Networks. Moreover as the data speed becoming higher and higher, the cell are become smaller and it becomes difficult to give Microwave connectivity to closely knit cells.

The idea is to conceptually segregate the Telecom Service Provision and Telecom Network Operation.

1.2. Telecom Service Providers sell the service to the customers and manage the Telecom Business. Telecom Network Operators set up, run the networks and sell network service to Service providers.

License can be given for more companies to become Telecom Service Providers using the Virtual Mobile Network based Business concept.  It shall be made mandatory for them  to provide service as Telecom Service Providers for the entire Circle without discrimination of any area limitations, along with existing FN/GSM/CDMA providers in the Circles and other Pan India licensed Companies.

Customers shall have the choice of buying service from any licensed Service Provider based on the service cost and value added services, and use any network that offer the best quality service in his service area.

1.3. Network Operation by the Consortium of Service Providers.

Having already given license to many Service Providers in every Circle, the network operation in rural areas to be set up and run by the Consortium of these FN/GSM/CDMA and Pan India licensed Service Provider Companies in each Circle.

To make the Network Operation business viable in rural areas, more sops and subsidies may be allowed in the licensing, cost of wireless spectrum, interconnect charges, etc. for the network operation in rural areas under the consortium.

This way it is not necessary to wedge in a new set of Service providers or Network operators in Telecom Circles exclusively for the rural telecom business where the future growth is. Otherwise it will be opening out another Pandora’s box.

2. Need for Universal numbering.
As telecom industry getting opened out with more and more Virtual Mobile Service providers in the fray, the call routing philosophy also needs change. This is envisaged in the proposed new numbering plan. The call routing will be based on discrete Service Provider identity instead of network identity or destination code.

2.1. How to Segregate Service Provision and Network operation. The service providers can have their own Home Location Register (HLR) or a business tie up with a centralized HLR provider. The HLR can sit anywhere in the country. Instead of the current used geographic destination code, the discrete ‘Service provider number’ is to be used translating it as the HLR number for the purpose of signaling between HLR and VLR. The call originated from various MSC/ VLR / GATEWAY which communicate with the Service Provider’s HLR will get the identity of the address of the MSC / VLR for routing the call directly to the terminating switch where the customer is roaming at that time by optimal routing. 

2.2. Feasibility of proposed new Numbering plan.  In this model, Customer will belong to the Service Provider, not to a particular  Network Operator in whose network, the subscriber is roaming at that point of time and have freedom to choose and use any network and any carrier for inter-network for availing service. Optimal Routing is envisaged to optimize direct routing of calls to the destination network.

Proposed below is the Service Provider based International Multi-media communication ‘Numbering Plan’. Format of the proposed International Multi-media ‘Called Number’ which is also the ‘Customer Number’ (Cn) will be:-
Cn = + Cc Sp Ts Sn (15 digits and according E164/E165).

2.3. Scope of Universal Numbering plan:
a) 1 to 10 billion ‘NUMBERS’ per Service Provider.
b) The Area Code is replaced by Service Provider identity. Numbering can accommodate 1000 Service Providers.
c) Exclusive Customer number over the entire numbering and exclusive Subscriber number under each Type of service.
d) Service Provider identity becomes a discrete digit stream to identify and rout the signaling and call content to appropriate network, switching system and terminal device.
e) The Subscriber number (Sn) will be same for various services; Voice, Fax, Data, Video and Multimedia services.

f) A discrete digit (Ts) in the numbering plan identifies and routes the call to required type of transport media, network, switching system and terminal device.

2.4. Components of proposed numbering plan.
‘+’ is the Inter-National Access code: (translated to local needs of the country of origin.)
Cc = Country Code (91 for India)
Sp = Service Provider identity (000 to 999)
Ts = Type of Service (1 to 9) (1=Voice, 2=FAX, 3=Data, 4=Video, 5-9 reserved)
Sn = Subscriber Number (PQ MCDU.  9/10 digits) (0000000001 to 9999999999)

In the example below, 9 digits ‘Sn’ is used.
For National access (Voice call) Called number Cn = Sp Ts Sn = 210 1 876543210
International number: (Voice Call) Cn= + Cc Sp Ts Sn = + 91 210 1 876543210
For the time being a 9 digit Subscriber number (Sn) would be enough for the telecom
Numbering in India to keep the total digits within 15 digits.

2.5. Carrier Selection. A distinct code (Pc) proposed for Preferred Carrier Selection.
This code will not be part of the numbering scheme. Pc is keyed in during the call set up when asked for it by the switching system during the progress of call, using interactive intelligent networking.

In due course, a distinctive International Service provider code can be derived combining the Country code Cc with Service provider code into one Sp code. Example: Cn = Sp Ts Sn, where Sp can be a 5 to 6 digits International service provider code. With that Sn can be expanded to 10 digits.

For India the range of the Called Number which is the Customer Number  ‘Cn’ will be:

‘Cn’ = Sp Ts Sn = 91000 0 0000000000 to 91999 9 9999999999.

This Universal Numbering plan will provide 1000 sets of 10 Billion numbers for each service type.

With the proposed Service provider based Universal Numbering plan and call routing based on it,  Customer can avail services roaming in network, regional, national or international of any Network provider retaining his Service Provider based number as far the user remains the customer of the service provider. However, change in numbering will become necessary only if the customer choose to change his Service Provider.

Number portability is an obsolete concept of old fixed number network scenario and has no relevance in Mobile phone network the user can avail service of any network operator using regional, national and international roaming feature. Moreover, with NGN and MPLS networks, the end user devices of sorts will have individual IP address in place of current form of numbering.

Author: Abraham Paul .P     e-mail Tweet @PA_Paul


About Abraham Paul

Vision & Objective: Telecom has always been the passion of my life. After 60 years of outstanding career and many personal contributions to the industry, I still have same urge, and desire to give back to the industry, the abundant experience, knowledge and potential acquired, by providing consultancy service to forward looking enterprises and entrepreneurs in Legacy and New generation Telecom & IT in the areas of Business Management, Technology, Engineering and Services. Apolitical and religiously unbiased.
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