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The HLR Lookup Enterprise Portal, API and email services provide solutions to automatically detect whether given phone numbers (MSISDNs) are valid and extract network, meta, roaming and portability information to sanitize and update mobile phone databases. The system processes up to 500 HLR lookups a second. Sign Up today for early access to web portal and API as well as instant access to HLR reporting services via email and discounted pricing.
How it Works
HLR Lookups make it possible to check the status of any GSM cell phone number. By making a query to the Home Location Register, the lookup service determines whether that number is valid, whether it is currently active in a mobile network, and if so which network, whether it was ported from another network, and whether it is roaming. The query will also return meta information such as the IMSI, MSC, MCC and MNC.
All mobile phone operators are connected by a network known as the Signaling System No. 7 network — or simply the SS7. The SS7 forms the backbone of the SMS (short message service) text messaging system, and it is used by cell phone operators to exchange information concerning setting up phone calls, number translation, prepaid billing systems, and so on. HLR Lookup services obtain information by sending the appropriate message over the SS7 mobile signaling network.
The process to run HLR Lookups is simple. MSISDNs (cell phone numbers) are submitted via the Enterprise Portal, the HLR Lookup API or via email as a text file. The HLR Lookup Core Engine queries the SS7 signaling network and obtains HLR Lookup results from the serving MNOs (Mobile Network Operators). The lookup results are returned via HTML (Portal), JSON (API) or CSV (Email) at a speed of up to 500 results per second and contain MSC, IMSI, MCC and MNC values as well as roaming, portability, connectivity status and other subscriber information.
What is an HLR Lookup?
With the emergence of Mobile Number Portability, cell phone subscribers can now keep their number when they change carriers. One result is a dramatic rise in the number of customers who choose to change carriers and port their number to their new network, simply because they sometimes want the latest-model handset.
This of course is highly convenient for customers, but it has also created a major challenge: It is much harder now for businesses, universities, and other organizations to guarantee the successful delivery of voice calls and text messages, because their customer databases is often full of invalid or deactivated phone numbers. The result? A costly expenditure of time and money. HLR Lookup is a service that gets around this.
What is an HLR?
HLR stands for Home Location Register. It is essentially a central global database of all the cellphone subscribers registered with a particular mobile network. Every mobile operator — from Vodafone, China Mobile and Telefonica to Sprint, T-Mobile and Airtel — uses an HLR. They use it to check the authenticity of a phone call when it is registered with a transmitter, either on the person’s home network or when the person is roaming abroad.
Continually updated in real time, HLRs hold the most accurate, up-to-date information on any cell phone subscriber anywhere in the world. An HLR store details of every SIM card issued by the mobile phone operator. Each SIM has a unique identifier, called an IMSI, which is the primary key to each HLR record.
HLR Lookup Portal and API Services
The Enterprise HLR Lookup Portal and API systems are equipped with redundant access to the global network of SMS centers and multiple geographically diverse links into the SS7 mobile signaling network. They can harness the power of it’s high-speed technology to quickly and accurately identify large batches of mobile phone subscribers in more than 200 countries.
The system can be accessed in a threefold way:
- Enterprise HLR Lookup Portal
- HTTP REST API
- CSV or text file submission via email
HLR Lookup Return Values
Below is a summary of the information that can be obtained in real time through HLR Lookups:
- The name of the mobile network operator to which that number currently belongs
- The country in which the network operator and the phone customer are located
- The MCC (Mobile Country Code), the MNC (Mobile Network Code), IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) and MSC (Mobile Switching Center) of the phone number
- Whether the number is currently active, has been deactivated, or was never registered — and therefore whether the number is valid or invalid
- If so, the name of the network to which the number belonged when first registered
- Whether a subscriber is roaming, which country they are roaming in, and what network they are currently logged on to (information obtained through the MSC address currently serving the number)
- Whether the phone is switched on or temporary errors could prevent the delivery of an SMS — for example, if the phone is turned off or out of coverage for an extended time — referred to as an “Absent Subscriber”
- The identification of the network even if an error such as “Absent Subscriber” is returned
How HLR Lookups Benefit Businesses and Organizations
With the development of Mobile Number Portability, cell phone subscribers can now keep their number if they change mobile networks. This is great news for phone users but costly for businesses, market research companies, insurance agencies, travel agencies, universities, and other organizations that periodically call or send text messages to large numbers of people in their database. One reason: Many of those phone numbers frequently may no longer be active.
HLR Lookup is a service that gets around this. There are several ways an HLR Lookup service can save you time and money—and in a competitive market, this advantage can be critical. Here’s a few of those ways.
The Benefits of HLR Lookup in Specific Use Cases
- Corporations and businesses can employ HLR Lookups to purge and update their databases by accurately determining whether mobile phone numbers are valid, active, deactivated, switched off, or roaming. An HLR lookup is almost always a cost-effective measure because it costs less to initiate a lookup than to send a text message to a customer or client who never receives it. HLR Lookups also benefit billing and payment procedures because they reduce errors triggered by misidentified customers who have invalid or inactive phone numbers still in the database of the business.
- Colleges and universities regularly send text messages, phone messages, and mailings to alumni that often cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Many alumni do not respond, sometimes because their phone number and other contact information has changed. Without knowing whether a cell phone number is invalid, suspended, or just switched off, or whether the person is simply roaming, colleges and universities spend far more on communications than they should. By updating their alumni database through an HLR Lookup, and identifying which mobile phones are actually valid and active, academic institutions can vastly improve the efficiency of their communications with alumni. Not only does targeted communications reduce costs, but during a fundraising campaign it can also raise the volume of alumni pledges by increasing the number of alumni who respond.Besides alumni relations, HLR Lookups can also greatly assist colleges and universities in their marketing initiatives by streamlining the student recruitment process, as the admissions office reaches out to prospective applicants.
- Mobile operators — both Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) — HLR Lookup offers the ability to perform Least Cost Routing (LCR) more effectively. How? HLR Lookup gives an operator high-speed access to complete MSISDN information. This includes the serving HLR, details about the home network such as MCC/MNC, country prefix and ported status, and visited network information, including where the subscriber is currently roaming. This facilitates both traffic and routing optimization, ensures correct network billing, and gives subscribers better service when they are roaming. Not only does HLR Lookup provide operators with up-to-date, real-time network information, but it also enables broader service coverage.
- SMS aggregators and Internet telephony (VOIP) service providers like Skype can also use HLR Lookups to determine which mobile network a number belongs to, find out whether it is roaming or ported, and automatically assign a route for the phone call.
- Apple iOS and Android developers make use of HLR Lookups in a variety of ways. For example, they can use lookups to build apps that can detect networks of phone numbers so that the per-minute rate of the call is displayed before the customer makes the call.
- Polling organizations and other market research companies employ HLR Lookup to find valid numbers to determine where a phone is located — for example, MSC, HLR, GSM Cell-ID, or Location Area Code. Similarly, travel and insurance agencies can find out through HLR Lookups in which country a phone is currently located, saving them both time and money.
HLR Lookups: A Summary of Key Benefits
- Cleans mobile number databases by identifying and removing invalid and deactivated numbers, enabling businesses to lower their costs by sending SMS texts to valid numbers only
- Can enhance the marketing functions of an organization by allowing them to target an up-to-date database of customers, clients, alumni, or members
- Can improve revenue margins and enable broader service coverage
- Provides subscribers with better service when roaming
- Facilitates traffic and routing optimization for VOIP, SMS, and voice calls by determining a subscriber’s home network
- Reduces Mobile Number Portability issues and interworking fees to a minimum
- Raises the accuracy of network billing by identifying the network a mobile number currently belongs to
- Offers real-time network information, including whether the number is ported
- Facilitates the troubleshooting of SMS delivery problems
- Distinguishes between invalid numbers, numbers experiencing a temporary problem, and handsets that are switched off