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Manage your Telephone Number Inventory Effectively

9 March 2023
Peter van Hartingsveld

Trusted by:

Telecom Egypt
BC Hydro


National Grid
Open Fiber
TPX Communications
Ella Link
Red Iris
Surf Net

For network operators, the task of automating and managing their telephone number inventories is a time-consuming challenge that’s all too easily mishandled. We see this often: number management frequently suffering from inaccuracies that result from human error, particularly when the task is handled on-premises as it often is.

The legacy, on-premises approach generally involves manual tracking of resources and that means updating spreadsheets to stay on top of things, an imperfect solution at best and unnecessary given the alternatives now available (as we’ll see later in this blog). Number management by hand is not only labor intensive but exposes the operator to simple mistakes. When errors occur, CRM complaints and activation failures soon follow, for instance due to poor MSISDN management resulting in the mistaken allocation of resources.

Number management: too much information

Managing telephone numbers means tracking a wide variety of information, so there’s a lot for the operator to stay on top of including:

  • Total Number Management
  • Geographic numbers and locations
  • Non-geographic numbers and their geographic mappings
  • Number portability management
  • ICCID Management
  • MSISDN Management
  • IMSI Management
  • Number Pool Management
  • Number Inventory
  • Number Block Management
  • SIM Ordering
  • SIM Management
  • SIM Inventory
  • Telephone Number Inventory
  • Number Resource Allocation

This broad range of critical detail has to be accurately recorded and doing so demands a solution that ideally bypasses the legacy approach problems to deliver not only accurate number management but also immediate scalability and reporting (in real-time), both necessary to put operators in greater control of their business related to numbering and associated resource management issues. Number Lifecycle Management, SIM Lifecycle Management, and IMSI Resource Management are all vital issues that impact operational performance and ultimately customer satisfaction.

SIM logistics are another growing challenge

Among the resources listed above, SIMs represent a changing and particularly interesting aspect of the challenge. Included within SIM inventory are generally both the new(er) eSIM and the more familiar physical SIM (which is unlikely to disappear anytime soon, even with eSIMs’ footprint growing). Effectively managing both resources is a growing logistical requirement and booming demand for mobile data makes meeting it efficiently a prerequisite. For operators there’s a premium on being able to find more efficient, less costly methods of handling this SIM inventory growth as doing so can reduce costs and simultaneously provide an upgraded subscriber experience – particularly with a growing base of IoT devices, equipped with SIMs or eSIMs.

Bear in mind also that the SIMs lifecycle begins before activation, for example when deciding what services are to be deployed and in turn what identifiers need to be resourced within the network. SIMs must then be purchased, shipped, distributed, placed into the market, sold, and activated (no wonder eSIM holds so much promise!).

Doing all this is expensive and more effectively managing the processes and inventory involved has predictably beneficial consequences. Efficiencies can be gained, for instance, by activating new services in real-time by assigning MSISDNs and other associated resources at the time of first use or designing new initiatives to target dormant SIMs. Resources such as IMEIs, MSISDNs, IMSIs and ICCIDs need to be tracked and managed to do this.

Telephone Number Management: a better way forward

All in all, it’s probably not an overstatement to claim that for mobile network operators, more effectively managing telephone number resources is a fundamental requirement. Yet competence in this area is, surprisingly, often overlooked even though it’s foundational for a successful operation. Why?

Well, planning is vital for number utilization to ensure the operator doesn’t run out of numbers that can be assigned to new customers. Utilization targets must be met in order to receive additional numbers. Contaminated or ported out numbers must be ring-fenced. With efficient Telephone Number Management, the operator gains the ability to stay on top of number inventory and resources with accuracy. This means it will be able to:

  • Follow regulations (for instance, how long a phone number can remain in an ordering, reserved or aging status)
  • Return ported-in numbers to the block holder when the service is disconnected
  • Accurately manage IoT/M2M identifiers (EIDs, etc.)
  • Save time with automated regulator mandated reporting and forecasting
  • Ensure that inventory accurately reflects numbering changes for instance due to number porting
  • Remove barriers to support new lines of business including IoT/M2M and new communication platforms
vc4 telephone number inventory system

Manage and track telephone number ranges, generate reports, and more

One proven solution to the problem of number management is the Telephone Number module from VC4. This provides a complete solution for effectively tracking and managing number resources, and for generating reports and discovering insights into network and user activities.

The module supports any number format – E.164, geo- and non-geographic, as well as mobile MSIDNs. It correlates numbers to assets, such as circuits, customers, nodes, locations and more – providing a comprehensive and accurate record. With it, the operator can manage ranges and individual numbers, allocate and associate numbers with activation or usage, and support freephone, premium, and private numbers with any country format and plan.

VC4’s Telephone Number Module sits within VC4-IMS, network inventory management software which uses a rigorous set process to collect raw data from data from multiple endpoints in the network, then normalizing and reconciling it. The solution delivers a critical, panoramic view of all physical and logical resources in the network giving the operator a clear, unified understanding of live network assets, and their utilization and configuration at any given time.

VC4-IMS integrates with live networks, discovering and synchronizing numbers with those managed in the Telephone Number module, ensuring accuracy – and assisting network planning. This enables the operator to create and manage ranges, sub-ranges, and more with granular control, to support business and sales processes, to manage blocks, ranges, sub-ranges, sub-sub-ranges, and more, and to filter, search and discover within its telephone number database.