Minnow stirs Telecom into 0800 portability

US-based World xChange, a minnow on the world telecommunications market which began investing in New Zealand last October, has achieved what none of the big boys has so far managed - a portable 0800 number agreement with Telecom New Zealand. The company negotiated the portability agreement as part of the interconnection deal it signed with Telecom last October. And, for all the sound and fury of recent years, the company's managing director says the issue is 'actually very simple'.

The spirit of co-operation can be found in the telecommunications market — if you look hard enough.

US-based World xChange, a minnow on the world market, began investing in New Zealand last October, its primary goal to offer discounted voice services to small to medium companies.

Nothing unusual in that, except that the company offers an average 23% discount on local toll calls, and up to 61% on international calls, without having to offer a relay service from the United States.

And, to top it off, it has achieved what none of the other big boys has so far managed - — a portable 0800 number agreement with Telecom New Zealand.

WorldxChange has switches in Wellington and Auckland, and is on target to have one in Hamilton by September.

What is of serious note is the fact that the company already has an 0800 number portability service to offer as a result of the interconnection deal it signed with Telecom last October.

Says managing director Steven Stanford: “It’s actually very simple. We have our own range of 0800 numbers, which we can supply as overseas numbers if necessary, Telecom points the 0800 number at our switch and we simply translate it. Telecom can point any 0800 number at our switch, even one that is allocated to another customer, so it does raise the issue of portability.”

This also raises an interesting question: How is it that a company which employs a maximum of 12 people locally can almost casually adopt a process that paralyses the minds of the corporates, the lawyers and the politicians to such a degree that it’s rare for them to even agree on which day it is?

Consider this. Because there’s no agreement about who owns or operates the number database, smaller companies such as WorldxChange and Saturn are essentially hindered by the larger players in the market. The small companies don’t care who owns or runs the database and allocates numbers. They know that they never will.

Are the major players looking for a commercial or a political outcome to the varying disputes that are in place?

The fact remains that companies such as WorldxChange and Saturn seem to be perfectly capable of setting up and operating telecommunications systems without having to resort to litigation, while at the same time offering a service the major telcos can’t seem to agree to provide. Their bickering doesn’t hold much water when placed in context.

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