Numbers stack up for ZOAK | ACMA

Numbers stack up for ZOAK

A new era in communications numbering began on Monday (3 Aug) when ZOAK Solutions (ZOAK) switched on the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s automated numbering allocation and administration system, paving the way for a far more efficient delivery of Australia’s numbering services.

Feedback from a number of industry participants confirms that the simple and intuitive system provides an outstanding customer experience. One of the many benefits of the new system is that it is significantly easier and faster for businesses to purchase and trade smartnumbers (which can now be purchased directly through the automated system, without having to wait for the ACMA’s periodic auctions).

‘The outsourcing by the ACMA of its numbering allocation and administration function is the centerpiece of the ACMA’s continuing reform of Australia’s telecommunications numbering arrangements,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. ‘I congratulate ZOAK on the delivery of this world-class numbering system and thank industry participants for the great support they provided over a difficult transitional period.’

During 2010 and 2011, the ACMA undertook a comprehensive review of the regulatory framework for telephone numbers in response to deep changes in industry structures, service offers and consumer behaviour. This work is known as the Numbering Work Program.

The aim of the Program was to then identify what, if any, changes were needed to enable flexible, efficient and effective numbering arrangements for a future communications environment.

The Program tested the role that regulation of numbers plays in this changing environment. During this work, the ACMA has considered the many submissions it received about numbering from consumer groups, government agencies, existing industry participants, new players in the communications market and potential new entrants to that market.

‘The outsourcing of numbering allocation and administration further demonstrates the ACMA’s commitment to increasing the efficiency of government service provision and decreasing the cost of regulatory activities.

‘The ACMA looks forward to its continuing work in this Program in partnership with industry so as to further reform arrangements over both the medium and longer term,’ Mr Chapman said.

As part of the Program, the ACMA has updated and streamlined the Numbering Plan, of itself reducing the Plan’s size by 150 pages.

The flat-fee charging structure of $19.50 per transaction under the outsource initiative will represent significant savings for industry. Additional savings will also accrue from this outsourcing initiative as the ACMA immediately decommissions its two legacy numbering allocation IT systems.

‘I take this opportunity to thank INMS for its work as the ACMA’s delegate in allocating freephone, local rate and premium rate numbers and for its contribution to the transition to the new numbering system,’ Mr Chapman said.

The new numbering system can be accessed here.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or media@acma.gov.au.

Media release 37/2015 - 5 August

Backgrounder

Outsourcing of numbering allocation and administration

During 2010 and 2011 the ACMA examined Australia’s numbering arrangements to ascertain whether they were efficient and effective. Following consultation with industry, the ACMA formed a view (supported by industry) that an actively-managed evolutionary path to regulatory reform would best ensure numbering arrangements continued to meet the needs of industry and consumers.

Subsequently, the ACMA examined alternatives for the sustainable provision of numbering services in the long term. It found that expanding the range of numbering allocation and administrative services that were outsourced by the ACMA would produce the best outcome for stakeholders. It also concluded that the market, if tested, may be able to deliver numbering services more efficiently and innovatively than the existing arrangements.

In addition, the ACMA found that the consolidation of numbering allocation and administrative services into a single outsourced contract would allow the replacement of several legacy numbering systems with state of the art technology.

The ACMA conducted a Request for Tender to identify a provider and, on 12 September 2014, awarded ZOAK Solutions Pty Ltd the contract to provide allocation and administrative services for most of Australia’s telephone numbers from August 2015.

The ACMA is vitally aware of the importance of the numbering resource to the provision of telecommunications services and has worked in partnership with industry, ZOAK and the outgoing service provider (INMS) to facilitate a smooth transition.

This is a significant change to the way that Australia’s numbering resources are administered, but is an important step in its continuing evolution.

The Telecommunications Numbering Plan 2015 provides the framework for the new numbering system by setting arrangements for the numbering of carriage services in Australia and the use of numbers in connection with the supply of these services. It specifies the rules for the allocation, transfer, surrender, portability and use of different types of numbers in connection with the supply of carriage services.

The Numbering Work Program

During 2010 and 2011, the ACMA examined a wide range of issues related to the regulatory framework for telephone numbers. This was in response to:

  • issues raised by consumers and industry through the ACMA‘s Numbering Advisory Committee
  • pressures as a consequence of technical innovation, innovation in services and business models, and changes in consumer behaviour, many of which have been raised during consultations by the ACMA about numbering and related matters
  • difficulties faced by industry participants in achieving compliance with current numbering obligations, or the undesirable or unintended consequences or of achieving compliance
  • the sheer complexity of present numbering arrangements.

The aim of the Numbering Work Program was to identify what, if any, changes were needed to the existing telephone numbering arrangements to enable it to be a flexible, efficient and effective framework for the future communications environment.

Four consultation papers were released:

1. Structure of Australia’s telephone numbering plan (October 2010)-examined the pressures on the structure of phone numbers, including the cost of calls from mobile phones to freephone and local rate numbers (which are commonly used by organisations to provide crisis help lines).

2. Customer location information and numbering data (January 2011)-examined the derivation of customer, service provider and location information from numbers, especially by emergency services organisations, and how the objectives of these users might be met in an evolving and converging communications market.

3. Allocation and charging of numbers (March 2011)-examined the administration of numbering and associated institutional and charging arrangements.

4. Implications of research into consumer issues (May 2011)-examined the use of information in numbers by end users, including for assessing the cost of calls, identifying callers and identifying the location of a called party.

The diagram below sets out the current status of the various outcomes from the Program.

numbering_Aug 2015_600 px jpg Long-term ongoing actions working with the Department of Communications are listed as: Reconsider arrangements for geographic numbers following the implementation of IPND review recommendations; Other changes to geographic numbers referred to DoC for consideration in the light of NBN-market developments. Medium-term ongoing actions working with CA are listed as: Identify remaining operational and procedural matters that could form the basis of industry codes and guidelines—part of evolving the Numbering Plan to a more principles-based document. Medium-term (2 to 5 years) actions are listed as: Stop allocating numbers from the 0550 range for use with location independent communication services; Review the use of shared numbers for directory and information services when IPND replacement system is established and tested. Until then, the current use will be permitted; Facilitate a new framework for call charges from mobile phones to 13/1300 and 1800 numbers; Examine future management of number allocation including smartnumbers—an expanded range of services has been outsourced; Remove the Annual Numbering Charge from some short-digit access codes including CAC; Remove technical limitations on mobile numbers by aligning the definition in the Numbering Plan with the primary legislation. Short-term (1 to 2 years) actions are listed as: Remove Schedule 12; Remove unused service types; Consolidate number ranges; Maintain existing premium number ranges; Remove sector boundaries; Monitor the number of non-standard block allocations and report annually; Adopt forbearance approach to the use of digital mobile service numbers by satellite services; Monitor the satellite market and reconsider further changes when terminating interconnection rates are within 20% of each other; Extend the ‘use it or lose it’ provision in the Numbering Plan from 12 to 24 months. The ACMA’s managed evolutionary approach to numbering arrangements commenced in 2011. These details are current at August 2015.

Last updated: 08 May 2017