This year’s Toll-Free User Summit featured pioneers and thought leaders in the Toll-Free industry, including Mr. Doug Ranalli, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at NetNumber. During his session, Doug joined industry peers in a discussion moderated by William Carter, Chief Operations Officer at Somos. For our latest blog post, Doug and William continued the conversation with a question and answer session focused on key industry trends and all things routing data:
William: Thank you first and foremost for taking the time to sit down and take a deeper dive into the partnership between NetNumber and Somos. Let’s kick the discussion off with a brief overview of the role NetNumber plays in the telecom industry. For those readers who may not be familiar with your company, we’d love to hear more about the services NetNumber provides.
Doug: NetNumber is a signaling-control vendor to communications service providers. This means we build core network software that fulfills critical functions including: authenticating network connected devices and securing signaling information used for routing messages and calls. Among our core solutions is the TITAN platform which provides a common, virtualized infrastructure for all signaling control, routing policy enforcement and subscriber database services across networks.
William: The introduction of TITAN – NetNumber’s keynote Centralized Signaling and Routing Control (CSRC) solution – was a serious gamer-changer for the telecom industry. How is it integral to the data business and more specifically call routing?
Doug: One of the common uses of the NetNumber TITAN signaling-control platform is accurate routing of voice calls and messaging services. In order to fulfill this function, TITAN needs access to shared industry data like number-portability data, number-block assignment data and, of course, Toll-Free routing data. NetNumber built a data-service business unit that leverages industry data needed by our customers so that we could make it simple and cost effective to download and synchronize shared industry data in TITAN platforms.
William: Speaking of the data industry, as a global beast, undoubtedly there are hurdles you have encountered along the way. What are some of the challenges you discovered in the data business and how did you approach developing solutions to address these challenges?
Doug: We quickly found that every industry database, in every country around the world, has its own model for identifying a communications service provider. The Local Exchange Routing Guide (LERG) database uses a 4-digit Operating Company Number (OCN), the Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC) portability database uses 10-digit Local Routing Number (LRN), most Home Location Registers (HLRs) utilize a 5 or 6-digit Home Network Identity (HNI), etc. In order to make these databases useful for global routing, the NetNumber team created a globally unique naming convention called NetNumber ID (NNID) that is now widely used by fixed-line, mobile, cable/ Multiple System Operator (MSO) and Over the Top (OTT) service providers to route calls and messages on a global basis. The NetNumber data service team maintains and constantly updates the assignment of NNIDs to every service provider in the world so that our customers can easily identify a destination operator using our global data sources. NNID has become so popular and widely adopted that it has become common to hear service providers say that they “route on NNID.”
William: With more than 16 years of experience delivering software-based signaling-control solutions, I’m certain you’ve seen your share of changes in the telecom industry. As service providers transition from legacy technologies to next-generation IP networks, how does NetNumber see the requirement for data evolving?
Doug: In the past, the primary goal was to identify the regulated telecom carrier providing service to a subscriber. Today, the market wants to know more, including if a subscriber is being served by a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), by an OTT provider or by an Internet based communications platform (CPaaS) provider.
William: When we talk about changes in the industry, one recent change that I’m particularly excited about is the partnership between NetNumber and Somos. As the first authorized distributor of RouteLink®, NetNumber has definitely taken on a pioneering role. Can you expand on how that uniquely positions you in the market in respect to your competitors?
Doug: RouteLink® enables NetNumber to download the full Toll-Free routing database to TITAN platforms located inside the core of our customers’ networks. Once there, the data can be combined with local routing policies to enable more flexible and efficient routing of Toll-Free calls. Combining the Toll-Free database via RouteLink® with custom service logic within the TITAN platform creates a competitive advantage for NetNumber, which we are able to pass on to our customers.
William: In today’s competitive climate, it’s more important than ever to ensure that we are going above and beyond to not only meet but surpass our customer’s needs. We’ve seen how NetNumber recognizes this and offers customers a broad range of options for deploying the TITAN platform (cloud, hybrid, etc.). How does RouteLink® play into those deployments?
Doug: As the tool that gives TITAN the ability to download a full copy of the Toll-Free routing database, RouteLink® plays a critical role in all TITAN deployment models. Regardless of whether a carrier or operator deploys TITAN on Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) hardware, an Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) infrastructure or a cloud-service, the data is still needed to enable accurate routing decisions.
William: We’ve seen how RouteLink® provides access to a local copy of the Toll-Free routing data, near real time updates, enhanced visualization of the Call Processing Record and more. Aside from the recognized benefits and traditional use cases, are there additional use cases you are exploring with customers using RouteLink®?
Doug: Yes, as soon as we told our customers about the RouteLink® service we began to hear about use cases outside of traditional Toll-Free routing. One area where we’ve seen particular growth is in the text enabling of Toll-Free Numbers. There has been identified and proven steady growth in text-messaging services on Toll-Free Numbers. Additionally, we’re seeing growing interest in the use of Toll-Free data to help fight telecom fraud.
William: Promoting the benefits of text enabled Toll-Free and combatting fraud on Toll-Free have very much been top priorities here at Somos and a great way to wrap up our discussion. Thank you again for your time Doug and for giving our audience an exclusive look at how TITAN and RouteLink® are revolutionizing the business of call routing. This has been an informative discussion to say the least and we look forward to our continued growth and success with NetNumber.