Issues surrounding previous delays now resolved
Local number portability should be available to consumers in the Cayman Islands beginning the end of January 2012.
The move will allow consumers to keep their numbers when switching service providers, according to David Archbold, managing director of the Information and Communications Technology Authority.
The process has been delayed numerous times, but Mr. Archbold said the delays were inevitable, as when the authority started the process, the available solutions were not the right fit for the Cayman Islands.
“When we first started looking at local number portability, those solutions just were not around,” he said.
The process requires a central database of numbers and whether the numbers have been ported, but finding a provider who could provide the services at a reasonable cost was a challenge.
“One of our biggest problems has been working with the different companies here to find a solution that is downscalable to the size of the Cayman Islands community. Because there has been plenty of experience providing solutions for the United States, for Canada and there are huge companies providing huge solutions, that cost millions,” Mr. Archbold said.
However, the problem was that the companies could not offer a downscaled solution for a community the size of the Cayman Islands.
“What has happened over time is that some of the huge companies have looked at how to downscale. There have also come on the scene a number of companies that have specialised in looking at solutions for smaller jurisdictions,” Mr. Archbold said.
Although the search for a cost-effective solution has taken up a lot of time, a contract has now been signed with Porting XS to provide the database services.
“We now see clear steps towards implementation,” Mr. Archbold said.
As the authority preferred to see an agreed-upon solution rather than one imposed on the members of the consortium, there was also a lot of negotiation involved in the process.
“In this case there are four operators that have to agree on a contract with a fifth party. At the same time, they are agreeing [on] both technical and business process specifications that will make the whole system work, so there has been a lot of negotiation and a lot of work going on,” Mr. Archbold said.
The four providers involved in the consortium, LIME, Digicel, Logic and TeleCayman, also had to prepare their own systems for the implementation of local number portability.
“Many of the companies have had to make considerable investments in both hardware and software and time in order to get their systems ready to actually implement LNP. Some of the newer ones and smaller ones already had that facility within their switches, while some of the others had to put in an awful lot of effort and time. And that has been going on behind the scenes that nobody has seen,” Mr. Archbold said.
He said the timing of the implementation at the end of January resulted from a traditional freeze on network developments over the weeks preceding Christmas and up to the New Year.
“Clearly it is one of their busiest times of the year in terms of customers, and the last thing they want is a network change to cause a problem over that period.
“Although we as an authority are pushing to get this done as soon as possible, that sort of comment is absolutely reasonable. We really do not want to bring the systems down so people can’t call home over Christmas time,” Mr. Archbold said.