Number Validation
For Your Business

Number Validation services should not be a one-size-fits-all solution.  Services founded on regular expressions do not work and services created from HLR Lookup alone are unreliable and potentially expensive.  XConnect’s VAR solution provides different service grades to support different use-cases. 

 

Use Cases

  • Basic Number Validation: used in B2C markets for onboarding customers using online forms. In real-time without impacting user experience, determines if a number exists within a national regulated number plan, whether the number is fixed or mobile and if the number is the correct length.
  • Enhanced Number Validation: used in B2C markets as a batch process or in real-time to determine if a number has been allocated to an individual by the telecommunications service provider therefore removing bad data from the CRM.
  • Mobile Messaging: used in businesses such as banks who want the latest validation information prior to sending a high value message such as an SMS one-time-password. Failed deliveries are avoided and positive customer experiences created as alternative methods are used to reach customers.
  • Contact Centre: used in business such as utilities who want the latest validation information prior to customer call-backs. Customer may have left messages on voice-mail, emails, web-forms providing call-back information that requires validation prior to using expensive call agent time.

Talk With Our Experts

Simon Freeman
Director of Service Management

Lee Suker
Market Development Director & Data Protection Officer

Comparing Number Validation Services

The table below sets out common techniques for performing number validation along with the limitations of those methods.  The table lists the techniques used by different Number Validation services.

Method

XConnect’s VAR

Code-Libraries

HLR Lookup Providers

Number Range Specialists

Dialing a Number

Number Validation accuracy is high, but has limited scalability and is slow.  In most jurisdictions, calling a number to check it is live breaches privacy and telecommunication regulations and is a common practice of fraudsters, known as Wangiri fraud.  

No

No

No

No

Regular Expressions

Number Validation accuracy is poor and usefulness is limited to  performing simple length checking and country code checks. Global telephone numbers formats vary and each national regulator is responsible for managing number assignments with a international standard called E.164.

No

Yes

No

No

International Number Ranges

This is the best data sources for basic number validation applications.  Using the assigned E.164 number ranges is a much better way of performing basic number validation than regular expressions.  However, validation accuracy requires the aggregation, normalisation and maintenance of several number range data sets.  Your service provider must have deep numbering information experience to achieve good results. 

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

HLR Lookups

This is a good method of validating mobile telephone numbers although used in isolation HLR Lookup can be  expensive and unreliable.  Performing a HLR lookup has been the defacto method for validating mobile numbers for years.  In many instance a more basic validation technique would be more cost effective but if HLR Lookup is the best method then the service provider must first perform basic validation and aggregate from multiple sources in order to manage consistent data quality. 

Yes

No

Yes

No

Operator APIs

Operator APIs are not widely available.  Some telecommunication service providers have introduced web services APIs.  This is the best source of information although currently they are expensive and nearly always only provide information about telephone numbers that belong to that network.

In development

No

No

No

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Valid, Allocated, Reachable (VAR) is a multi-stage gated validation test.  The second stage, Allocated, will return whether the telephone number has been assigned to an individual by the operator. Being assigned to an individual is an indication that the queried telephone number is in service.

False Positives are commonplace if a number validation solution uses regular expressions or just number plans.  False Negatives are commonplace if a number validation service makes uses of a single HLR Lookup provider (as their coverage will have blackspots).  VAR’s multi-stage gated test uses number plans for its initial check and pro-actively manages multiple HLR Lookups providers to avoid coverage blackspots.

The basic number validation using Valid is global and does not vary.  The enhanced validation using Allocated does have some variability.  This is because HLR Lookups by their nature have highly variable coverage.  To mitigate this, XConnect pro-actively manages multiple HLR Lookup providers.  We send a daily coverage report to our customers showing them live statistics and when those statistics fall below the benchmark we work with our suppliers to improve them.  

The basis number validation using Valid works for fixed and mobile.  The enhanced validation currently only works for mobile.  Solutions exist for fixed line enhanced validation but only in a small number of countries and they often result in significant false positives.  This is due to the number households that have disconnected their landline, but the landline still shows as connected because broadband is served over the same line.  

Some HLR Lookup vendors will tell you that ‘subscriber status’ can inform you if the phone is switched on, switched off or temporarily out of coverage.  Having tested hundreds of different mobile networks, XConnect has not found this to be reliable and more over is highly likely to be a breach of data protection legislation. 

If you can’t find an answer to your questions you can submit your question to our experts 

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