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What Would You Do if Your VoIP Provider Went Dark Tomorrow?

February 09, 2012

Last year, the FCC (News - Alert) adopted an order aimed at reforming today’s voice-focused Universal Service program to one focused instead on bringing broadband to areas where it is not available and ensuring ongoing support for broadband. Plans to phase down inter-carrier compensation (ICC) and to require VoIP providers to pay ICC also are encompassed in the reforms, which appear to borrow heavily on the brokered reform proposal made by large carriers and small telco associations. The order also leaves several key areas for further resolution—including how funding for rate of return and satellite carriers will be awarded and how to treat calls that are connected via the Internet protocol.

What's important to VoIP providers, whether wholesale, retail, hosted or cloud, is the part about requiring them to pay ICC (Inter Carrier Compensation).  Basically that means that no longer are nontraditional voice service providers exempt from the hefty costs for intra state and intra late calls being considerably cheaper than traditional voice service providers had to endure - think of it as tilting the favor of the playing field back into the traditional providers.

After all, one of the greatest benefits for VoIP based service was always the savings in cost.  Routes that VoIP providers use to enjoy costing fractions of a penny may suddenly cost $0.10 a minute.  OUCH.

On top of that with more flat rated VoIP termination steering away from the blissful DN (Dialed Number) based billing to Lata-OCN billing and LNP (Local Number Portability) on the rise each year - it was close to 50 percent in 2011 - and all of a sudden what VoIP providers thought was cost savings could quickly be marching them to bankruptcy.

Side note, let's say you are a customer of a VoIP provider and think this doesn't affect you; ask yourself, what happens when your provider goes dark and your business phones stop ringing because of it?  It is in everyone's best interest to be in the know, because in this case ignorance is deadly to profitability.

Doom-n-Gloom aside, what can be done?  For termination, it is in every VoIP provider’s interest to make sure they have access to an LRN dipping service. A LRN (Local Routing Number) is a ten digit number that looks like a telephone number, but in actuality represents an entire telephone switch through which multiple telephone numbers are routed. Originally designed as a technique for providing Local Number Portability, LRN removes the need for the public telephone number to identify the local exchange carrier (this is where Flat Rate Termination billing loses out); only the LRN needs to be changed.

Ok, Ok so what does this mean?

With VoIP Termination, if you use a combination of LATA-OCN billing carriers for your LCR (Least Cost Routing) and a LRN dipping service, when  Customer A calls their party in the morning, you send it over Carrier A because it is the least cost. Then when Customer A calls that same party in the afternoon but the number has ported to their new provider you will know that Carrier A is no longer the least cost route but instead Carrier B is the least cost route. 

Furthermore, with LRN dipping if you delivered both times,  Customer A would call that party over Carrier A and reveals that the second call could have cost you 300 percent more than the first. 

That's how you save money, keep your company open and keep your customers from frantically looking for a new provider.

Now that you are aware, you may be asking where do I get an LRN dipping service?  Well, that's easy to tell, right from TSG Global. TSG’s Enhanced LRN Service is the most intelligent location routing number (LRN) querying system in the industry.  TSG Enhanced LRN offers the most comprehensive suite of LRN API Fields available to meet all your needs.

TSG’s Enhanced LRN includes “one of the kind” search fields, such as, Carrier Name, OCN/LATA, Rate Center and Switch Name. Contact TSG Global for more information and happy dialing.

David Vaughan is an industry veteran of telecom, now Director of Projects at TSG Global, Inc. To read more of David's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca
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