XConnect picks the right number as Somos buys it
Number information and messaging company XConnect has been sold to US-based number registry company Somos.
Eli Katz (pictured), who founded XConnect 16 years ago, will stay on with the London-based operation, which will continue under its existing name. Katz would not say how much Somos, which is based in New Jersey, paid for XConnect.
The sale comes only a week after XConnect completed the sale of its wholesale voice interconnect services business to a management team led by Peter Dunbar, the head of voice services for the past four years, together with Terry Smith, head of account management.
That unit, XConnect Carrier Services, will become 121 Comms Carrier Services in due course. Capacity exclusively reported the plan to split in August 2019.
Somos, which was known as SMS/800 until 2015, is the administrator for the North American Numbering Plan (NANP), which covers all fixed and mobile phone numbers in Canada, the US and its territories, and some Caribbean countries.
Somos said that it and the number information services unit of XConnect “will deliver an unmatched portfolio of number administration, business messaging, routing data, identity verification, and identity management products for the global telecommunications industry”.
Somos has largely operated in the North American number market, and XConnect has operated in most of the rest of the world.
“The dots were really easy to join,” Katz told Capacity as the deal was announced. The two companies’ mission statements were identical “almost word for word”, he said. “We have common factors in our DNA and our vision of the role of trust and neutrality, with a core understanding of the communications industry.”
Gina Perini, CEO and chair of Somos’s board, said: “Somos and XConnect have built solutions to bring greater confidence and convenience to how people and brands communicate. Now, we are combining the best of what each of us offers to create a global identity management platform needed by a rapidly evolving telecommunications industry.”
She joined XConnect’s board last week, according to UK company records.
Katz told Capacity: “We have a clear understanding that there is huge potential. We bring services to global carriers and other telcos.” Those services are expanding from application-to-person (A2P) messaging to identity and validate, including two-factor authentication (2FA), as used by an increasing number of web-based services to confirm people’s identity.
“They all use your phone number,” said Katz. “Even WhatsApp identifies you with your phone number. It is being used for identification and validation, for fraud and risk assessment. The phone number is the key.”
Somos has run North American toll-free numbers — with 800 and similar area codes — since 2013, and three years ago it won a competitive tender by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to be North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA). It took over the role from the previous administrator, Neustar.
XConnect’s acquisition by Somos “will give us investment and resources”, Katz told Capacity.
The takeover was announced just two days before the US introduces Stir/Shaken, a suite of protocols that is intended to counteract the misuse of caller ID to fool phone customers into believing the source of fraudulent calls.
“The US is the first country going through this regulatory structure of validating numbers,” said Katz. “It is likely that elements of the Stir/Shaken concept will have impact across the globe. We can help by taking [Somos’s] expertise to the rest of the world.”
Six of Somos’s executive leadership of eight are women. “For me this culture and diversity was a very important part [of the deal],” said Katz.