Numbering Plans and Electronic Addresses
Communications and Multimedia Commission's Plan
Industry Workshop
Issues for Proposed Regulations

Numbering Plans and Electronic Addressing

Numbering plans are required to provide a consistent and predictable framework within which numbers are to be allocated and used for network addressing, and geographic and functional prefix codes. Usually, the plans address issues associated with the orderly development of the communications numbering system. Malaysia's numbering system has been developed on the basis of the needs of narrowband telecommunications (ie, telephony). 'E164' is the name of the international telephone numbering plan administered by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which sets out the format, structure and administrative hierarchy of telephone numbers. 'E164' is the reference name for the ITU document that sets out the structure of telephone numbers. Over the years, the system has been extended to accommodate new fax, circuit switched data, paging and mobile telephone services. By definition, the numbering system is numeral-centric.

In contrast, the electronic mail system used via the Internet is an alphabet-centric system. Convergence has caused distinct matters such as technologies, services and applications to share the same functionality.

Communications and Multimedia Commission's Plan

Under Section 180 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is responsible for developing a plan for the numbering and electronic addressing of network and applications services.(1) The plan will set out a list of non-exhaustive rules in relation to:

  • the assignment, transfer, use and portability of numbers and electronic addresses;
  • the use of different numbers and electronic addresses for different types of service;
  • the requirements of network and applications service providers to maintain a plan for assigning and reassigning numbers and electronic addresses; and
  • rates for the assignment and transfer of numbers and electronic addresses, which may be imposed by the MCMC.

Industry Workshop

On October 3 2001, in order to facilitate the development of a numbering and addressing plan, the MCMC held an industry forum entitled 'Industry Workshop on Malaysian Electronic Addressing and Numbering'. Communications industry players and other interested parties were invited to provide their views on the legal, commercial, consumer and technical issues involved in numbering and electronic addressing.

The MCMC's Initial Issues Paper for the workshop can be viewed at

The workshop aimed to explore the relevant issues and how they are perceived by the industry, and obtain the widest level of industry involvement possible in the development of the MCMC's plan and regulations.

Delegates provided their opinions on the following areas:

  • Long-term numbering and electronic addressing plans. One of the key issues that arose concerned the changes necessary in order for numbering and electronic addressing plans to support convergence between the telecommunications and broadcasting industries, given that their services are becoming less distinguishable and are supported by common packet-based infrastructure.
  • Number portability and consumer information. The delegates were asked to consider the possible ways in which geographic and non-geographic service provider number portability could be regulated. Since numbers usually contain information about subscribers, delegates considered (i) how a balance could be drawn between portability and information, (ii) how the information that must be retained should be structured, and (iii) whether there are other ways of meeting the needs of users, consumers and service providers.
  • Availability, allocation and charging of numbers and addresses. The issues which were considered concerned (i) the availability of numbers required to satisfy consumer demand as and when it arises, (ii) how fairness and efficiency may be ensured in the allocation of numbers, (iii) the control of issuance, cancellation and withdrawal of numbers, (iv) the certainty and predictability in the management of numbers, (v) how disruption can be minimized when changes to numbering plans and arrangements are implemented, and (vi) the management of the value that is inherent in numbers within the framework of the numbering plan.
  • The viability of implementing ENUM (Electronic Numbering or Electronic Number) in Malaysia: The delegates considered whether there was a sufficient incentive for users to put their communications identifiers into ENUM. Also, since ENUM is a mechanism for handling some aspects of communications convergence by providing translations between E164 numbers and internet names, and is a planned, public database service for use by callers and network operators, the possible operational and legal arrangements for a registry, registrars and the validation of numbers in that database were considered.
  • Current operational and implementation issues. The issues pertaining to allocation, issuance, withdrawal, cancellation and dispute resolution of numbering plans were considered.
  • Personal/virtual numbering. Delegates considered how best to ensure that the numbering system meets the needs of users in terms of (i) simplicity, (ii) ease of use, (iii) the avoidance of mistakes, (iv) the minimization of disruptive changes, and (v) the incorporation of changes as they become necessary.

Issues for Proposed Regulations

The opinions of the industry players are likely to provide valuable industry input that will enable the development of a strategic plan, and may play an important role in shaping the future regulatory framework of Malaysia's numbering plans and electronic addresses. Where appropriate, industry input is likely to be distilled into the proposed regulations. To that end, the MCMC has appointed consultants to develop and propose regulations for the operation of numbers and electronic addresses. They will cover a broad spectrum of issues including:

  • guiding principles for the operational frameworks on numbering;
  • criteria and procedures for the application and assignment of numbers;
  • principles for the application and registration of numbers;
  • principles for the suspension or revocation of assignments on numbers;
  • the portability and transferability of numbers;
  • the development of a schedule of fees which will include the charging structure and processes of numbers, and a tabulation of the costing structure for numbers; and
  • the MCMC's role in the control planning, administration, management and assignment of electronic addressing resources of network and applications services.

The regulations are also likely to deal with other relevant issues such as competition and consumer protection.

For further information on this topic please contact Sharon Suyin Tan at Zaid Ibrahim & Co by telephone (+603 257 9999) or by fax (+603 254 4888) or by email ([email protected]).


(1) The definitions of 'network services' and 'applications services' appear in Overview (November 2000).