[AusNOG] Number portability, lost calls, NBN, etc.

Ross Wheeler ausnog at rossw.net
Thu Apr 20 14:58:40 EST 2017

Some of you may remember my call for help here a couple of weeks ago with 
a customers number ported from hel$tra to aapt (pan, fire, jump).

Thank you to the many who on and offlist gave me pointers, or at least 
shared experiences of the problem, and frustration over the difficulty of 
resolving it.

I'm penning this note perhaps to spark discussion or thoughts on 
resolution of what appears to be a new and hitherto unrecognised problem.

Up until an hour ago (and possibly still an issue), my customer been 
getting calls from most places EXCEPT a non-trivial number of callers 
local to them. Given they are a specialist emergency medical service, the 
bulk of "important" calls ARE local to them, so these are the most 
critical calls - they seriously ARE a matter of life or death.

So after 2 weeks, they are still NOT getting an unknown number of calls 
originating locally. AAPT wanted my call logs showing the failure and 
didn't seem to grasp that I couldn't give them logs for calls we were not 
receiving! I suspect they've still not lodged the problem with telstra.

The customer recently got told (by telstra) that all the digital numbers 
were handed over to nbn, and that nbn still "had" their number in "their" 
system, and that it "could not be removed until the account was closed". 
This is an account with nbn that the customer didn't know existed, didn't 
create, didn't authorise and has never seen!

Hypothesis: some of the OTHER people in this customers area have also been 
moved onto an nbn service - including their phones. Calls originating 
within "nbn" (presumably the nbn-department-of-telstra) are finding my 
customers number in the "nbn" system and routing the call directly there, 
completely bypassing the global number database.

The customer just called me, and had been on the phone with someone from 
"the nbn" - they confirmed that they still had "the number", but said that 
they wouldn't close the account until it had been paid! (Seems it has 
never been paid since it was created in 2015). Threats were made, the 
operator finally "deleted" the number. Customer got one of the known 
problem-callers to try dialing again and presto... the call came through! 
So it seems to some extent anyway, that the "nbn hijacked our number" 
story has some element of truth.

Surely this breaks huge chunks of the infrastructure designed specifically 
to permit calls to be ported around between different providers and 
infrastructure? Or is there some presumption that once a number goes into 
"the nbn" it'll remain there forever more?

Fingers crossed that this particular customer is now sorted, but how many 
more are potential disasters waiting to happen??

Or has a small amount of fact been mis-quoted and/or mis-interpreted by 
agents of helstra, nbn, aapt and my customer, and made into some story 
that bears little relation to fact?


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