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Articles

The Magic Behind TMT – The Global Numbering Plan

Lucian Gheorghe

5 min read

A brief introduction to TMT’s Global Numbering plan

Being a mobile-centric Identity and Intelligence company, the data that resides at the base layer of most of the things we do is the Global Number Range layer that contains all numbering resources allocated to all network operators by regulators around the globe.

When we started building our services, we began by researching and building our Number Range data for the countries we initially serviced. As we added more and more datasets globally, we realised we needed a very accurate Global Number range to provide the best possible service to the market.

For those who do not know, a Global Numbering plan contains all the number ranges that have been allocated to network operators around the world. Those numbering resources are assigned by telecommunication regulators to the networks in their countries and from those ranges, phone numbers are assigned to customers.

A very important lesson learned in those early days was when one of our MNP query customers stopped sending queries for a country, when asked why they told us they had access to the MNP database directly. However, 2 weeks later, the queries returned as they couldn’t figure out the correct numbering plan for the country, resulting in higher costs for them on SMS termination than using our query solution.

Initially, the plan was not to build a global solution, however as demand increased, we decided to set about building a truly worldwide solution.

Where does the data come from?

We have a dedicated team that researches the correct sources, scripts automatic updates where possible and verifies the accuracy. So, where do they get the data?

International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) the ITU-T receives updates from regulators on numbering resources. Most regulators only publish to ITU-T the structure of the numbering plan (e.g. what prefixes are Landlines, what prefixes are Mobile, what are the dialling rules, and what are the possible lengths of the numbers). This is a good source of data, but not granular or updated regularly enough to use by itself.

National Regulators – as the Telecom industry is regulated, the number ranges are assigned by the national regulators. Some publish the data regularly and structured, others make it available only for network operators, others publish some PDF decisions on range assignments, and others, don’t publish it at all.

IR.21 documents – Being a member of the GSMA, TMT has access to the IR.21 documents where mobile operators publish data relevant to international Roaming, including information about their numbering ranges. Of course, some do it more regularly than others.

HLR Data – as we found out the hard way, sometimes the data from ITU-T, Regulators and IR. 21 may differ, therefore we turn to our own Live HLR solution for “asking” the networks where some numbers are, validating the source of truth in many cases.

There is no single source of truth, unfortunately – there are some cases where Regulators publish some incorrect data or operators publish some incorrect data in their IR.21 docs. Even more, in countries where there is a high level of M&A activities between network operators, numbering resources are either fully or partially transferred when networks are acquired.
We have to get all the layers working smoothly to resolve conflicting data – and this is why our Number Plans team are worth their weight in gold.

How often is it updated?

Well, it depends on the complexity and dynamism of the number range allocations and the M&A activities of each country. To make sure we have the most correct and updated global number range allocations, we created an internal SLA for our numbering plans team and, following the SLA, some countries are updated:
Daily – where we can trust the regulators and IR.21 documents and can automate the process.
Weekly – where the dynamic is relatively high and manual intervention is needed.
Bi-weekly – for countries with lower dynamic and manual intervention.
Monthly – where the dynamic is really low.

But there are 2 more important dynamics of the Global Numbering Plan:
We are getting alerts – from Regulators, Operators or when a new IR.21 is published that a new range is about to be allocated OR a range owner changed. We act immediately.

As there is no such thing as perfection (although we aim for it) if we get anything wrong, our customers will alert us if we miss a range or if the range holder changed, we investigate through the normal support process and bring forward the particular country update to solve the ticket.

How and where is it used?

Being the base layer of our data stack, the numbering plan is used in most of our products.
We offer the numbering plan by itself in what we call “Teleshield”. Our customers use the data either by downloading it or by real-time querying it ((enum, HTTP, sip redirect) for:
Routing and screening of voice calls and SMS
Preventing Fraud
Preventing Bypass such as flash-calling
Inside Signaling firewalls
Origin base Rating and Routing (OBR)
Validating online sign-ups
Customer Data cleansing
Verifying Identity

Technically, what I notice is most of the companies doing voice use prefix-based allocation, some use prefix + length and others prefix + min/max length. Even if we have a strong background in voice, we use the data internally as ranges (Start, Stop) because numeric searches (e.g. number in (start, stop)) are much faster computationally and we can deliver a very high number (hundreds of thousands) of TPS (transactions per second) at a sub-millisecond latency using our own in-memory database optimised for phone numbers and attributes.

At the time of writing and looking at our in-memory database, there are 3.1 million ranges assigned to 18,000 networks globally (landline, mobile, virtual, VoIP, etc…).

How to get it?

We serve the Global Numbering Plan by:
Download – we can export the data in a few formats (ranges, prefixes, prefixes+length, prefixes + min/max length).
Single number Queries to our Teleshield product. The standard query interfaces are ENUM and Rest API.
Batch number queries in our portal or by uploading files to our SFTP.
SIP redirect service – a custom solution for delivering the data either as redirects or SIP error codes.
The data contains:
Range or prefix
Country code
Number Type (Landline/Mobile)
Extended number type (toll-free, Voip, etc..)
Network id
MCC
MNC
Network Name
Full Operator name

Last updated on July 15, 2024

Contents

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What Our Customers Are Saying

"BTS (Business Telecommunications Services) is successfully using TMT’s Velocity and Live services to check the status of mobile numbers. This way we make sure we optimize the performance of the service offered to our customers and ensure the quality of terminating traffic to all countries.”

Business Telecommunications Services

"Working with TMT’s TeleShield service has expanded our ability to detect fraud and minimise the risk to our business. TeleShield brings peace of mind and the opportunity to stop fraud before it affects our customers’ bottom line or the service."

Six Degrees Labs

"LATRO relies on TMT’s TeleShield to provide the most up to date and reliable numbering qualification information within our fraud reporting tools, enabling us to protect our customer’s revenues and empowering them to defend themselves against fraudulent numbers."

LATRO

"TMT is a valued partner that enables us to manage our routing costs effectively. They proactively and continuously expand their operator and country coverage while delivering exceptional customer service. We can always count on them to achieve high-quality results and look forward to our continued collaboration."

Global Message Service

"TMT provides us with the most comprehensive numbering intelligence data through their fast and reliable Velocity and Live services. TMT is a trusted partner for us, their products ensure that we continue to optimise the best performance and service to our customers."

Global Voice

"TeleShield from TMT gives 42com the power to detect and target telephony fraud scams internationally, thereby protecting our company from the financial and customer experience impacts of telecommunications fraud."

Alberto Grunstein - CEO

"It has been a pleasure to work with the team at TMT. They have become an essential provider of accurate numbering data information and Number Portability services globally."

Luisa Sanchez - VP of SMS and Messaging Solutions, Identidad Technologies

"Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier uses TMT ID as one of their key suppliers for Mobile Number Portability Data services. Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier uses TMT ID’s Velocity MNP solution. This is an ultra-fast query service that optimises the routing of international voice calls and A2P messaging."

Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier

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