Return of numbering resources by Sonaecom - alteration of decision


Amendment of decision DE 051108CA of 29 December 2008 on the return of numbering resources by SONAECOM


By determination DE051108CA of 29 December 2008 1, ICP-ANACOM adopted a decision on the conditions associated with the rights of use of numbers transferred from Optimus Telecomunicações S.A. (OPTIMUS) to Novis Telecom S.A. (NOVIS) on 24 October 2007, and the transfer of rights of use of numbers allocated to TELEMILÉNIO, Lda. (TELE2) to the ownership of SONAECOM - Serviços de Comunicações, S.A. (SONAECOM).

By the said determination SONAECOM was ordered, among other actions, to return, within a period of one year, various numbering resources which the principle of effective management did not warrant to be held by a single company, in light of the overlapping of certain types of resources stemming from the integration of the companies.

This decision was preceded by a draft decision (DD), which was submitted to a prior hearing of SONAECOM, pursuant to articles 100 and 101 of the Code of Administrative Procedure. At that time, the company raised only general reservations with regard to the implementation of actions contained in the Decision.

However, on 16 July 2009, in a letter submitted to ICP-ANACOM, SONAECOM reported that achieving full compliance with the determination of 29 December 2008 entailed technical difficulties and had economic implications. The difficulties cited by the company were linked to the return of two blocks of Network Routing Number among the three it would hold.

Network Routing Number – NRN

The numbering resources indicated by the determination of 29 December 2008 as requiring return during 2009 included two out of three NRN blocks - D010, D073 and D093 - which were in the possession of the company subsequent to its restructuring.

NRNs are numbers used as prefixes and placed prior to ported numbers to identify the network of the provider to which the numbers were ported.  This method enables calls to ported numbers to be routed expeditiously and effectively to networks which do not belong to the providers to which ICP-ANACOM issued the blocks of 1000 numbers, including the ported numbers.

NRNs are composed of three distinct fields, in the format shown in Figure 1, and ICP-ANACOM is responsible for the allocation of P1P2P3 to each company with portability obligations.

Figure 1 - NRN Format

Service Code

Company Code

Switch/Network Node




Every company has 1000 codes available to distinguish different switches, services or network nodes.

Compliance with the obligation of effective and efficient use of numbers was imposed in the determination of 24 October 2007, which authorized the transfer of rights of use of numbers from OPTIMUS to NOVIS. With respect to this obligation, particular reference was made to the numbering resource which both companies held to identify the provider or network points other than terminal points, with NRN expressly included in this category, being deemed as constituting resources which, given their nature, do not warrant accumulation.

Subsequently, the analysis of the Draft Decision which would lead to determination DE051108CA of 29 December 2008, also addressed the issue of NRN, which serving to identify the provider and up to 1,000 nodes of its network 2 and being invisible to the user, did not find sufficient grounds for their accumulation by the new company, whereby it was required that two of the three held by SONAECOM be returned to ANACOM. Moreover, the existing procedures in respect of portability, in particular those provided for contractually between the companies with portability obligations and the Reference Entity, have rules specifically designed for this purpose.

Actions and comments of SONAECOM

Following the determination of 29 December 2008, SONAECOM reported that it had taken a number of measures to put the provisions in this decision into operation, stating in its letter of 16 July 2009 that, within the stipulated period, it would be technically possible to return one of the three NRN blocks which had come into its possession through the restructuring. The Company also requested the regulator to consider an amendment to its determination, given the potential envisaged impact on the sector brought by the massive return of NRN blocks, in order to allow the existence of more than one NRN block per single company.

As regards the return of the NRN, in its choice of NRN block to retain, SONAECOM opted for block D093 (OPTIMUS). The Company based this decision on the impact, which it described as "extremely high in terms of costs and development time", in the event that a different option was selected, "to the extent that the use of any other NRN for the mobile network would make it necessary for Ericsson to modify all the specific developments which this manufacturer had to develop over the years in order to accommodate the specifications required by the services provided to mobile customers.

As such SONAECOM set out, in its technical solution, to implement the massive alteration of NRN in two phases:

1. Transferring the numbers associated with D073 (TELE2) to D010 (NOVIS);

2. Transferring the numbers associated with D010 (NOVIS) to D093 (OPTIMUS).

As regards the first phase, SONAECOM estimated that it could take place within two to three weeks, and did not envisage any major problems.

With respect to the second phase, SONAECOM identified the following technical difficulties, with implications for the time it would take to complete the task:

1. With the merger of the companies, SONAECOM considered that it was essential to first carry out the reconciliation of the various information systems from the three companies, since they used three different applications in the portability processes.   It also considered the system to be used in future to support all processes of portability would be the system in operation on the fixed network, since this was the most stable and flexible system.   Therefore, in accordance with the information referred to in the letter from SONAECOM, all the internal tools used in the mobile business would have to be adapted in order to communicate with the fixed network system;

2. The second problem concerned the alteration of the NRN, which would have to be performed in competition with the portability of numbers, whereby the migration would have to be phased, taking up excess capacity in the information systems and communications platforms associated with portability 3. Based on the analysis of the first four months of 2009, SONAECOM estimated that 60 days would be required to achieve this migration.

In addition, SONAECOM also considered that:

1. The entry into force on 20 July 2009 of the Regulation amending the Portability Regulation, prevented the Company from initiating the process of preparing their systems before this date;

2. The first phase of migration should not be delayed by the requirements of the migration of D010 to D093 (system compatibility).

In light of the above, the Company indicated that development work for the second phase could only be started after the first phase had been completed and, as such, was estimated to start on 01 March 2010.

Finally, SONAECOM citing:

a) That there were no technical impediment restricting the use of more than one block of NRN by a single operator;

b) The implicit acceptance of the Regulator that two distinct NRN blocks could be used by the same operator 4;

c) The high development costs that would be incurred by the Company in the return of two NRN blocks, without any practical benefit for the market;

d) The risk of impacting "hundreds of thousands of users" involved in the migration, in the event of any bug in the system;

e) The slowness of the process to ensure no impact on the market, with respect to the normal activity of portability;

f) The future impact on the market in case of future mergers of larger companies, if the use of two NRN blocks by the same operator were prevented;

g) The fact that no regulations exist which prevent the use of two blocks of NRN;

requested that ANACOM review its decision of 29 December 2008, allowing SONAECOM to retain two of the three blocks which were now in its possession as a result of the merger of three companies into one company.

SONAECOM also indicated that in the event that it is required to return two NRN blocks, it would only be able to accomplish this objective fully in September 2010.

Analysis and Position of ICP-ANACOM

Analyzing the plan of SONAECOM with respect to the process of massive migration of NRN, ICP-ANACOM considers that the number of NRN alterations necessary for the return of two NRN blocks always depends on the choice made with respect to the company code P1P2P3 to be retained.

By choosing block D093XXX, it was inevitably necessary to migrate all ported numbers with NRN D073XXX (TELE2) and D010XXX (NOVIS) to the chosen NRN - D093XXX.

In ICP-ANACOM’s view, this was not the most efficient choice, since, as on 31 December 2008, the volume of ported-in numbers in the merged companies, was as follows:

  • [SCI] 5 [ECI].

The best option from the outset, i.e. the one that would minimize the number of NRN alterations in the processes of mass migration to be undertaken, would be to retain block D010XXX. With this option, the number of NRN alterations would total [SCI] [ECI] numbers from TELE2 to SONAECOM - phase 1 - and [SCI] [ECI] numbers from OPTIMUS to SONAECOM - phase 2.

The option taken by SONAECOM led to the need for migration of the same [SCI] [ECI] numbers of TELE2 to SONAECOM - phase 1 - but now with [SCI] [ECI] numbers with NRN D010XXX [SCI] [ECI] to the OPTIMUS NRN - phase 2. In conclusion, a total number of NRN alterations involving 5 times the quantity of numbers.

As mentioned above, the Company justified the choice made on the grounds that the use of any other company code P1P2P3 for the mobile network would require development work by the manufacturer and that this would be extremely costly and take a long time to implement. However, in rejecting the simplest solution in terms of migration of NRN numbers, as a result of the constraints cited with respect to their mobile telephone service associated systems, in practice the solution which SONAECOM chose is also difficult to implement in the allowed time. Moreover, this solution also has the added disadvantage of having greater impact on the systems of all the other companies involved in portability -operators and the Reference Entity -, multiplying by 5 times their efforts in the migration process.

In any case it is a choice that is SONAECOM's to make and as such this choice constitutes a right of management, where supported by limitations of its mobile platform.

Likewise the reconciliation and merger of the various information systems from the three companies to support the portability processes is an act of internal management and the exclusive responsibility of the company. The position taken is that this constitutes an optimisation of network resources put into operation by SONAECOM with benefits SONAECOM, but that it does not provide direct justification for the difficulties cited, in particular with regard to the costs incurred in this area as a result of the determination of ICP-ANACOM.

Finally, with regard to the considerations raised by SONAECOM as justification of the request to change the decision of ICP-ANACOM, it should be noted:

a) There is indeed no technical impediment in the implementation of two NRN blocks by the same operator on a single network, but nor is there any technical impediment in the implementation of only one block. The code P1P2P3 identifies one company, and when this acquires and absorbs other companies, which in the process lose their identity, it is logical, besides being a practice of effective and efficient numbering management, that the identification codes of the additional company be returned, using the 1000 C1C2C3 codes available to it to route to different network nodes and/or distinguish the different services within their network according to their technical and management criteria.

b) The accumulation of two NRN blocks, accepted by a resolution of 24 October 2007, which authorized the transfer of rights of use of numbers from OPTIMUS to NOVIS, was made subject to the general obligation of effective and efficient use of numbers and specific reference was made to the analysis underlying the decision which found no justification for more than one company code for routing calls with respect to portability, since these codes do not constitute subscriber numbers.

c) The figure quoted by the Company in terms of costs is presented as an estimate for the internal process of reconciling the information systems associated with the processes of portability of the various companies taking part in the merger to optimize resources, which is completely disconnected from the return of NRN blocks.   There are, however, costs which are due to the massive migration process and which are not indicated in the letter of SONAECOM.

d) With respect to the impact "on hundreds of thousands of users" due to possible glitches in the portability process, it is noted that since the massive migration is performed in instalments according to the capacity of the process management systems and, for 2009, in accordance with the terms of the Portability Regulation, any failure would affect the proportion of subscribers involved at that moment and not all of the subscribers undergoing number migration.

e) The massive migration process depends on excess capacity of portability processes and regular updates 6, whereby it is noted that, in any case, from January 2010, the minimum limit to which companies are subject ceases to exist and excess capacity ceases to be valid reason for refusal; as such operators should be prepared for higher levels of portability.   On the other hand this type of action should be executed outside the windows of portability, allowing for greater efficiency in the processes of both normal portability and any mass migrations.

However, ICP-ANACOM, faced with the request of SONAECOM to amend its decision of 29.12.2008, is bound to assess with rigour how best to proceed in the light of the public interest involved. Therefore, ICP-ANACOM, recognizing that the choice of the Company involves a very high volume of numbers requiring an alteration of NRN [SCI] [ECI], far higher (five times) than the quantity assumed by ANACOM in the basis of its decision, and that the difficulties of migration grow in line with this volume of numbers for all parties involved, namely:

1. For all providers with portability obligations, since they are also required to update their information systems associated with the processes of portability and the NRN changes introduced - an increase of processing in these systems which may be important;

2. For the Reference Entity because, as the company managing the portability processes, it is bound to ensure the discipline of migration of each number;

3. For SONAECOM because, in addition to additional processing with mass migration, there are direct costs arising from this migration operation, in particular those due to the Reference Entity under the Contract Services Agreements signed between this entity, the providers with the portability obligations and ICP-ANACOM;

4. Potentially for users, if the operation is poorly developed or implemented, causing interruptions to the service of subscribers of migrated numbers which have been affected by this deficiency.

In this context, although ICP-ANACOM considers that the decision taken on 29 December was correct according to its underlying premises, it recognises that the return of the D010 NRN block has implications in terms of effort, costs and risk that have effects beyond SONAECOM, whereby, in consideration also that that the resources in question:

  • Are technical routing numbers on the communication network, without any visibility to users and without any impact in terms of the image of the Company or any benefit from a commercial point of view;
  • Are plentiful, since of the 1000 blocks which are available not even 30 are in use, whereby there is no expectation of depletion;

intends to amend Decision DE051108CA of 29 December 2008, considering that similar situations deserve equal treatment.


Accordingly, the Management Board of ICP-ANACOM, in exercising the powers conferred upon it by points b), f) and h) of paragraph 1 of article 6 of its Statutes, approved by Decree-Law No 309/2001 of 7 December, and pursuant to articles 17, 34 and 38 of Law No 5/2004 of 10 February and article 147 of the Code of Procedure Administration (CPA) adopted the following decision:

1. The wording of point e) of paragraph 4 of DE 051108CA of 29 December 2008, shall hereafter read as follows:

"To establish a time limit of one year from the date of approval of the final decision, for the return to ICP-ANACOM of the following types of resources:

a. (...)

b. (...)

c. (.)

d. (.)

e. One of the following blocks of NRNs (Network Routing Numbers) - "D010", "D073", "D093"".

2. To waive the prior hearing of SONAECOM, SGPS, S.A., pursuant to article 103, paragraph 2 of the CAP.

1 Transfer to SONAECOM of rights of use for numbers
2 This maximum capacity has been shown to exceed, by a large degree, the requirement of any of the existing national networks.
3 Article 15 of the Portability Regulation sets a minimum daily capacity for portability and NRN changes, allowing for the rejection of portability when this capacity is exceeded. The values in force in 2009 for that capacity were 3,380/day until 20 August and 1,500/temporal window thereafter.
4 Determination of 24 October 2007 - Final Decision on the authorisation in respect of the transfer of frequency and number usage rights granted to OPTIMUS Telecomunicações S.A. to NOVIS TELECOM, S.A..
5 On 2 Dec 2009, the quantity of numbers ported-in with the codes of each of the three companies would be a little different [SCI] [ECI] not significantly altering the conclusion.
6 See footnote 2.

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