Discussion Papers

Cara Schwarz-Schilling

Nummernverwaltung bei Wettbewerb in der Telekommunikation
Nr. 180 / Dezember 1997


Telephone numbers have suddently become interesting, because they are a prerequisite of access to telecommunication networks and services. The availability of numbers is a key factor for entering the market and setting up new services in liberalized telecommunication markets. The expansion of services has increasingly led to the use of numbers as primary marketing tools besides their essential uses for addressing, routing and the signalling of infomation.

The introduction of competition into the telecommunications sector implies new challenges for numbering administration. This relates to the development of an adequate numbering scheme as well as the specification of allocation procedures and appropriate usage conditions for numbers. Regarding the institutional organization, the neutraliy and competence of numbering administration has to be assured.

Different allocation mechanisms are applicable for the assignment of numbers. The first-come first-served principle is used most often because it is relatively easy to handle. But this procedure does not lead to an efficient allocation for vanity numbers and golden numbers that are a scarce resource having a commercial value. Market oriented methods are better suited. Therefore it is necessary to study different types of auctions and trade mechanisms for rights of use of numbers, to investigate about the necessary technical and regulatory framework and to check the applicability on a case by case basis. In principle market oriented allocation methods are applicable for numbers as well as for the assignment of frequencies and other scarce resources.

A public regulatory body should be responsible for numbering administration, whose functions can be divided into policy and operational tasks. In Germany none of these functions is delegated to another independent institution but they are all carried out by the regulatory authority. For the establishment of a level playing field in the liberalizied telecommunication sector, access to numbers is of particular importance. Therefore, the execution of operational functions within the regulatory body seems to be the best safeguard for non-discriminatory allocation of numbers.

Since numbering administration involves the solution to complex questions, it is suggested to establish a numbering advisory body that can support the regulator on numbering policy issues. To implement a regulatory process that is transparent and open, it is also suggested to establish a formal consultation procedure for numbering issues like in the US or the UK.

Only German language version available.

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