In the mid-1990s before mobile number portability existed, Telstra needed a solution to migrate its customers from the analogue AMPS network to new numbers on the newly introduced GSM network, and later CDMA network. The challenge was to find attractive and cost effective methods to do this without inconveniencing or losing customers to competitors who were also offering GSM.
Seamless technology transformations
How Telstra implemented mobile phone number portability
How do you encourage millions of mobile customers to migrate from AMPS to the digital GSM and CDMA networks, without inconvenience or losing them to competing providers?
Provide a flexible series of numbering options to make the migration more attractive to customers to stay with the client. MINT (Mobile Intelligent Number Translator) allowed customers to obtain a new GSM or CDMA number ‘matching’ their existing 018 number, as well as allowed them to receive calls on either number for an interim period.
The approach was to allow customers to keep their 018 AMPS mobile number, by prefixing them with a 4 at the front to become 0418 for GSM, or 0428 for CDMA. These new numbers were available to customers immediately, while their existing AMPS numbers was still functioning, thus assisting in the transition process from old to new numbers.
It was an important business strategy because many businesses had their existing numbers on their vehicles, business cards and other marketing materials and they would need significant lead time to get everything updated. However the existing manual process involving multiple SIM cards required to offer this service was expensive. Telstra turned to Unico to find a more favourable solution.
By leveraging experience with the Intelligent Network (IN) product and applying knowledge of Telstra’s signaling network, Unico developed the MINT (Mobile Intelligent Number Translator) system. MINT overcame existing limitations of having multiple ‘Home Location Registers’ (HLR) in the network, allowing Telstra to have any mobile number on any HLR, thus simplifying logistics by enabling use of a single SIM card during the migration process.
Migration to the GSM network with minimum disruption and cost to its customers, maintaining market share and gaining a huge competitive advantage as the sole provider with network technology to port existing numbers in the future.
MINT put Telstra in a strong market position: they had the network technology to port numbers long before their competitors, meaning they could focus on the business and IT aspects of number portability rather than the network aspects.
When Mobile Number Portability (MNP) was mandated for introduction in 2001, Telstra already had the technology via MINT to port numbers. With just a small change to the system, Telstra could route the numbers to the right network whether an original Telstra number has moved to competitors, or vice versa.
Today the technology introduced through MINT still supports SMS, MMS and wholesale traffic, handling close to 100 million transactions per day at over 99.9999% availability, a demonstration of the longevity of technology solutions that the company can provide.