The Vonage trial that gave the VoIP provider direct access to telephone numbers is running smoothly, according to a report issued today by TransNexus, a provider of software for managing wholesale VoIP networks.

The report cites data provided by Vonage showing that the company has successfully re-assigned as many as 80,000 phone numbers that were ported from other carriers, has placed 572 new numbers in service and has ported 11 of its own numbers to other carriers. The company also said it has experienced no routing failures.

Traditionally VoIP providers have only been able to obtain phone numbers through a competitive local exchange carrier. But in April the FCC gave Vonage permission to conduct a six-month trial that would give the company direct access to phone numbers in a limited number of call centers.  Several other companies – including SmartEdgeNet, WilTel, IntelePeer and Millicorp—were subsequently given permission to conduct similar trials but are still in the testing phase, the report notes.

According to the TransNexus report, Vonage initially planned to test a total of nine number blocks in three metropolitan areas including Atlanta, Phoenix and eastern Massachusetts but dropped plans for Phoenix when CenturyLink said it would only exchange traffic with Vonage if Vonage purchased dedicated TDM trunks and entered into a commercial agreement for TDM traffic exchange.

Rural number exhaust concerns
Stakeholders that objected to giving VoIP providers direct access to phone numbers had concerns that were largely unfounded, TransNexus argues.

For example, the National Association of Rural Utility Commissioners and some others had expressed concerns about potential phone number exhaust in rural exchanges. Because phone number pooling does not exist in some rural areas, NARUC and others argued that a VoIP provider would have to get a block of 10,000 numbers, even though the provider would not need anywhere near that amount of numbers.

The TransNexus report says the FCC addressed this concern by granting state commissions the authority to give VoIP providers direct phone number access only in rate centers subject to number pooling.

Giving VoIP providers direct access to phone numbers can reduce the costs of connecting phone calls by eliminating the need for VoIP service providers to purchase direct inward dial services from the local exchange carrier, TransNexus argues. In addition wholesale carriers will benefit because VoIP providers will not charge termination fees on calls made to their customers, the report states.

Direct access is the first step toward the development of a true VoIP peering system – and that will further reduce the cost of calls by paving the way to a “bill and keep” approach to call delivery, TransNexus says.

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