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New trials seek to address technical issues while avoiding touchy competitive concerns.
After much talk over the past few years, local number portability is starting to make its public debut. With a major trial set to begin in New York early next year, U S West in a Washington trial and Ameritech openly seeking a permanent solution, local number portability no longer is being swept under the rug by the big carriers, though some still see only potential losses when they examine the issue.
The New York trial is running under the auspices of the New York Number Portability Trial Task Force, which includes carriers such as Nynex, Rochester Tel, AT&T, MFS Intelenet, Teleport Communications Group and Sprint.
The group issued an RFP hoping to develop hardware and software to support local number portability using a database architecture. The six-month trial, which will begin next February, is sparking interest around the industry. But organizers are trying to avoid overblown expectations.
"The task force is calling this strictly a technology trial," says Suzzanne Yerdon, director-industrial affairs for MFS Intelenet and task force co-chair. "We decided up front to keep a lot of political issues out of this."
The task force also is excluding most economic issues from the trial, requesting that carriers record all costs associated with the trial, which will have a testing period of a few months before live traffic is introduced.
Among costs …