PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION
[40 Pa.B. 373]
[Saturday, January 9, 2010]
Public Meeting held
December 17, 2009
Commissioners Present: James H. Cawley, Chairperson; Tyrone J. Christy, Vice Chairperson; Kim Pizzingrilli; Wayne E. Gardner; Robert F. Powelson
Relief Plan for the 717 NPA;
Doc. No. P-2009-2136951
By the Commission:
On October 20, 2009, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (''NANPA''),1 NeuStar, Inc., in its role as the neutral third party NPA Relief Planner for Pennsylvania, acting on behalf of the Pennsylvania telecommunications industry (''industry'') filed a petition with the Commission requesting approval of its plan to alleviate numbering exhaust for the 717 Numbering Plan Area (''NPA'' or ''area code''). According to the petition, the industry reached a consensus2 to implement an all services distributed overlay for the geographic area covered by the 717 NPA which would create a new area code to service the area.
The Federal Communications Commission (''FCC''), which has plenary jurisdiction over numbering issues in the United States,3 mandates that states must implement timely area code relief, i.e., add a new area code, when the area codes within their boundaries are about to exhaust their supply of NXX codes.4 The Commission, therefore, is now faced with the decision of deciding when a new area code must be added and in what form that area code should be added. Because we need input from consumers, the industry and other interested parties involved regarding this difficult decision, we will now direct that the consensus relief plan for the 717 NPA shall not be implemented at this time. Rather, the Commission will seek comments as outlined in Section III below and a decision on this issue will be rendered at a later date once we review said comments. Further, while we are only seeking written comments at this time, this issue also may be subject to future public input hearings.
I. FCC Requirements Regarding Area Code Relief
The proliferation of new area codes is not the result of the unavailability of numbers for end-users. Rather, new area codes are needed when existing area codes exhaust their supply of NXX codes.5 When there are no more NXX codes available to assign to telephone companies, then new area codes need to be opened. The system for allocating numbering resources was designed in 1947 to accommodate a monopoly system. In recent years, however, a combination of several factors has created an unprecedented demand for NXX codes leading to the exhaustion of existing area codes and the proliferation of new area codes to fill the void.
According to FCC regulations, new area codes can be introduced to relieve the shortage of NXX codes in an area code through the use of any of the following three methods:1. A geographic area code split, which occurs when the geographic area served by an area code is split into two or more geographical parts;2. An area code boundary realignment, which occurs when the boundary lines between two adjacent area codes are shifted to allow the transfer of some numbers from one area code to the other;3. An area code overlay, which occurs when a new area code is introduced to serve the same geographic area as an existing area code. See 47 CFR 52.19(c)(1)—(3).
Although the NANPA notifies the industry when an area code needs relief planning and conducts the relief planning meeting, it is a neutral third party that does not express an opinion on any proposed relief alternative. Additionally, the industry is encouraged to participate in the creation of the relief alternatives and is free to present any plans during the relief planning meeting.
II. NANPA's NPA Relief Planning for the 717 NPA
A. The Relief Planning Meeting for the 717 NPA
Between 1940 and 1990, Pennsylvania had a total of only four area codes (412, 814, 717 and 215). The 717 area code is one of Pennsylvania's original four area codes. Today, Pennsylvania has ten active area codes (215, 6106 , 267, 4847 , 717, 5708 , 412, 7249 , 87810 , and 814).
The April NRUF (Number Resource Utilization Forecast) and NPA Exhaust Analysis April 24, 2009 Update (''2009 NRUF Report'') indicated that the 717 NPA will exhaust during the third quarter of 2012. Based upon the projected exhaust date, NANPA notified the Commission and the Industry on July 1, 2009, that NPA relief needed to be addressed. The Industry met via conference call on September 10, 2009, to discuss various relief alternatives. Pursuant to the NPA Relief Planning Guidelines, NANPA distributed an Initial Planning Document (''IPD'') to the Industry prior to the relief planning meeting. The IPD contained descriptions, maps, general facts and assumptions, and the projected lives of an all-services distributed overlay relief alternative, referred to in the IPD as Alternative #1, three two-way geographic split alternatives, referred to as Alternatives #2, #3 and #4, and a concentrated overlay, referred to as Alternative #5. Later, at the September 10th meeting, a Commission staff member proposed for consideration Alternative #6, an additional two-way geographic split.
During the relief planning meeting, the Industry members evaluated the six relief alternatives, described more fully below:
• Alternative #1—All Services Distributed Overlay: A new NPA code would be assigned to the same geographic area as the existing 717 NPA. Alternative #1 has a projected life of twenty-one years.
• Alternative #2—Two-Way Geographic Split: In a two-way geographic split, the exhausting NPA is split into two geographic areas and a new NPA is assigned to one of the areas formed by the split. For Alternative #2, the proposed split boundary line runs north to south along rate center boundaries tracking primarily along the Susquehanna River. The boundary line runs east of Liverpool, Duncannon, Marysville, Mechanicsburg, Lewisberry, Manchester, Wrightsville, Brogue, Airville and Delta. The area west of the split line, referred to in the IPD as Area A, would have a projected NPA life of twenty-seven years to exhaust and the area east of the split line, Area B, would have a projected NPA life of seventeen years to exhaust.
• Alternative #3—Two-Way Geographic Split: The proposed split boundary line runs north-to-south along rate center boundaries tracking primarily along the Susquehanna River. The boundary line runs east of Liverpool, Duncannon, Marysville, Mechanicsburg, Lewisberry, Manchester, Wrightsville, Brogue and turns north of Rawlinsville, Quarryville, Strasburg, Intercourse, New Holland and Terre Hill. The western portion, Area A, would have a projected NPA life of twenty-four years to exhaust and the eastern portion, Area B, would have a projected NPA life of nineteen years to exhaust.
• Alternative #4—Two-Way Geographic Split: The proposed split boundary line runs along rate center boundaries in a west-to-east direction. The boundary line runs south of Dry Run, Chambersburg, Fayetteville, Biglerville, York Springs, Dillsburg, Dover, Manchester, Elizabethtown, Manheim, Lititz, Ephrata and Denver. The northern portion, Area A, would have a projected NPA life of twenty-three years to exhaust and the southern portion, Area B, would have a projected NPA life of twenty years to exhaust.
• Alternative #5—Concentrated Overlay: In a concentrated overlay, a new NPA code is assigned to only certain rate centers in the same geographic area occupied by the existing 717 NPA. Customers would retain their current telephone numbers; however, ten-digit local dialing would be required by all customers within the overlay area and between NPAs in the affected rate areas. Codes in the overlay NPA will be assigned upon request with the effective date of the new area code. All remaining 717 NXX codes would be assigned only to the non-overlaid area. Those customers in the non-overlaid area of the 717 NPA would retain seven-digit dialing until the remaining 717 NXX codes were assigned and the overlay would then be extended to all rate centers in the 717 NPA. At exhaust of the 717 all future code assignments will be made in the overlay area code. The proposed boundary for the concentrated overlay area in Alternative #5 runs along rate center boundaries carving out a northeastern portion, referred to as Area B, of the 717 NPA. The boundary line runs west of Millersburg, Halifax, Dauphin, Marysville, and Mechanicsburg and turns north of Dillsburg, Dover, Manchester, Elizabethtown, Manheim, Lititz, Ephrata and Denver. The overlay area inside Area B includes twenty-four rate centers, with Harrisburg City Zone 1 having the greatest number of NXX codes. The number of years before the overlay will need to be expanded is projected to be five years. In total, the NPA overlay is projected to last twenty-one years. It was assumed for the calculation of these lives that the concentrated overlay will be introduced in the next eighteen months.
• Alternative #6—Two-Way Geographic Split: A suggestion was made to move the boundary line for Alternative # 5 to include the Millerstown, Liverpool, Newport, Duncannon, New Bloomfield, Carlisle, Dillsburg, Manchester, Elizabethtown, Mount Joy, Marietta and Manheim rate centers in Area A and use this as a geographic split line instead of a concentrated overlay. The northeastern portion, Area B, would have a projected NPA life of twenty-seven years to exhaust and the remainder, Area A, would have a projected NPA life of seventeen years to exhaust.
B. Industry's Current Consensus to Recommend an Overlay
At the September 10th meeting, the participants discussed the attributes of the relief alternatives and reached consensus to recommend to the Commission Alternative #1, the all services distributed overlay plan, as the preferred method of relief for the 717 NPA. All existing customers would retain the 717 area code and would not have to change their telephone numbers. Consistent with FCC regulations, the relief plan would require ten-digit dialing for all calls within and between the 717 NPA and the new NPA. The industry recommends that all local and toll calls between the 717 NPA and the new NPA be dialed as 10-digits, or permissively as 1+10 digits at each service provider's discretion. All local and toll calls originating in the 717 NPA or the new NPA and terminating in other NPAs (NPAs other than the 717 or new NPA) must be dialed as 1+10 digits. Operator services calls would require customers to dial 0+10 digits.
The following table illustrates the recommended dialing plan:
Type of Call Call
Dialing Plan Local & Toll Calls Overlay Home NPAs (HNPA) 10 digits (NPA-NXX-XXXX)* Local & Toll Calls Foreign NPA (FNPA)
outside of overlay
1+10 digits (1+NPA-NXX-XXXX) Operator Services
Credit card, collect, third party
HNPA or FNPA 0+10 digits (0+NPA-NXX-XXXX) * 1+10 digit dialing for all HNPA and FNPA calls permissible at each service provider's discretion.
When the 717 NPA exhausts, all CO code assignments will be made from the new overlay area code.
Industry participants also reached consensus to recommend to the Commission a thirteen-month schedule for implementation of the overlay. The recommended schedule is as follows:
Recommended Implementation Schedule for All Services Distributed Overlay
Event Time Frame Network Preparation Period 6 months Permissive 10-Digit Dialing and Customer Education Period (Calls within 717 NPA can be dialed using 7 or 10 digits)
Mandatory dialing begins at the end of the Permissive Dialing Period
6 months First Code Activation after end of Permissive dialing period (Effective date for codes from the new NPA) 1 month (after Mandatory
Total Implementation Interval 13 months
The Industry states that adhering to the proposed timeframe will avoid the denial or delay of service to telecommunications providers' customers due to the unavailability of CO codes.
III. Comments Sought By the Commission
The FCC has adamantly maintained that state commissions cannot engage in number conservation measures to the exclusion of, or as a substitute for, timely area code relief.11 Therefore, when Pennsylvania's area codes are about to exhaust their supply of NXX codes, the Commission must implement timely area code relief, i.e., add a new area code. When faced with the need to implement new area codes, the Commission must decide two very important issues. First, the Commission must decide how to implement the new area code (i.e., a geographic split or an overlay). Second, the Commission must determine when the new area code needs to be implemented. Therefore, we are seeking written comments from interested parties regarding what form of area code relief should be implemented upon exhaust of the 717 NPA and the timeframe for the implementation.
In addition to the submission of any written comments to the Commission's Secretary's Bureau on the relief plan, the Commission believes that public input hearings would also be a useful tool to help make this difficult decision. Therefore, the Commission hereby directs that public input hearings be held within the 717 geographic region so that oral testimony related to the form of relief for the 717 NPA can be received from interested parties as well. The locations and times for the public input hearings will be established by the Office of Administrative Law Judge as an administrative law judge will be assigned to this matter for the purpose of facilitating the hearings. A transcript of the hearings will be made and then certified to the Commission which will make the final decision on this matter.
A. Form of Area Code Relief for the 717 NPA
According to the FCC, state commissions must add new area codes when the existing area codes exhaust or are about to exhaust all their NXX codes. Consequently, the critical element for deciding when to add new area codes is to know when the area code will exhaust all of its NXX codes. State commissions have no involvement in predicting or projecting the exhaust dates for area codes. The FCC has delegated this responsibility to the NANPA.
The NANPA projects exhaust dates for area codes by averaging the past rate of assignment of NXX codes and using that to estimate the future rate at which NXX codes will be assigned. Because these variables are so fluid, projecting accurate exhaust dates is difficult. With constantly changing information such as this, the Commission has a difficult time trying to determine when Pennsylvania's area codes will exhaust thereby requiring the addition of new area codes to ensure that all telecommunications carriers have numbering resources.
Once it is determined that area code relief is necessary, based on the NANPA's projected forecasts, state commissions are faced with the task of deciding what form that relief should take. The Commission is seeking comments on the five initial relief alternatives submitted by the NANPA to the industry and is open to suggestions regarding any other potential alternatives for providing relief to the 717 NPA.
Pennsylvania has experienced both area code splits and overlays. There have been a total of five overlays since 1999 (484, 267 and 878 have been implemented and 835 and 445 were activated but later rescinded). Prior to 1999, three geographic splits have been implemented (610, 570, and 724). There are benefits and disadvantages to either method.
With the imposition of an overlay, existing land-based telephone customers are not likely to have to change telephone numbers. Therefore, customers will not need to change their advertising and stationery. However, the FCC requires that ten digits be used to dial all numbers in the overlaid area when an overlay is implemented. New NXX numbers from the new area code are assigned to carriers that do not have numbers available in a given rate center. Therefore, the first three digits of a ten-digit telephone number around the corner or down the block might be from the new area code. Eventually, a single customer might have two different area codes for telephone lines serving his or her home or place of business if the existing carrier has run out of numbers in an NXX assigned to the old area code.
On the other hand, implementation of a geographic split involves dividing an existing area code into two or more parts, with one part retaining the old area code and other(s) receiving a new area code(s). Callers are presently able to continue using 7-digit dialing for calls made within the area code boundaries. Customers in the area retaining the old area code are minimally impacted. Customers in the new area code, however, must change their area codes. Businesses must revise their stationery and their advertising. Commercial customers may not be able to retain ''vanity numbers,'' upon which they have spent advertising dollars. Callers, particularly at the border of the old and new area codes are temporarily inconvenienced. They often must dial 11 digits to make calls that were previously 7-digit numbers. Although local calling areas actually have not changed and calls that were local before the area code split remain local calls, even if they cross into the new area code, people are initially disconcerted and distrusting of the concept of an eleven-digit local call. Indeed, local calling areas do not change no matter which method of area code relief is implemented.
Specifically, the Commission is interested in the specific circumstances of the 717 NPA and whether these circumstances favor the implementation of one form of relief over the other. We ask parties that are submitting comments to keep in mind the following factors when advocating for a particular form of area code relief: (1) What form of area code relief would create longer lasting NPAs for the 717 region; and (2) What form of area code relief is the least disruptive to consumers.
B. Implementation Schedule and Activation of the Relief Plan Chosen for the 717 NPA
While a state commission may not utilize numbering optimization measures in lieu of implementing timely area code relief, a state commission may minimize the consumer impact of traditional area code relief by not implementing new area codes sooner than necessary. Accordingly, we would like comments from interested parties on the timeframe for when area code relief must be implemented and ultimately activated to relieve the 717 NPA. The current overlay relief plan proposed by the industry allows thirteen months for full implementation of the new NPA. According to this timeline, six months are devoted to network preparation, six months are devoted to ''permissive'' ten-digit dialing, and one month is devoted to ''mandatory'' ten-digit dialing. The Commission's experience with area code overlays is that they can be fully implemented within six months. Consequently, the Commission questions whether a thirteen-month timeline would really be necessary for implementation of an overlay for the 717 NPA.
We also seek comment on the following questions regarding implementation of a split to relieve the 717 NPA:
• What is the shortest amount of time this type of relief can be implemented?
• Would a 6-month timeframe for implementation of a split be feasible?
• What aspect of implementing a split is the most significant for the industry and how long does this take to complete?
Also, in Southeastern Pennsylvania (610/484 and 215/267), the Commission had ordered that additional proposed overlays (835 over 610/484 and 445 over 215/267) not be implemented until three months prior to total exhaustion of the underlying NPAs. Thus, the Commission posits the following questions:
• Is a similar situation possible for the 717 NPA?
• Could the industry undertake to implement an overlay for the 717 NPA but not actually activate that new overlay NPA until total exhaust of the 717 NPA?
• Could the requirement of ten-digit dialing be suspended until the new overlay NPA were fully activated?
Additionally, we would like comments from interested parties on the timeframe for when area code relief must be implemented to relieve the 717 NPA.
Moreover, we recently filed a petition with the FCC requesting additional delegated authority so that we could implement mandatory number pooling throughout each and every rate center within our NPAs. We believe that if the petition is granted by the FCC, it will add to the number of NXX codes available for assignment in our NPAs, particularly our more geographically rural NPAs, like the 717 NPA. We also believe that this may impact the implementation schedule for any new area code in the 717 NPA.
The policy of the Commission is to ensure that numbering resources are made available on an equitable, efficient and timely basis in Pennsylvania while ensuring that the impact of proliferating new area codes on consumers is as minimal as possible. In view of the well-documented disruption to customers caused by changes in their area code, it is in the public interest for us to seek comments from consumers, the industry and other interested parties involved regarding this difficult decision; Therefore,
It Is Ordered That:
1. The industry consensus recommendation set forth in the petition for an all services distributed overlay relief plan for the 717 NPA is denied, pending receipt of comments and any further proceedings, as necessary.
2. Comments, as requested by this Order, be filed with the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, P. O. Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265, no later than 45 days after this Order is published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
3. The Office of Administrative Law Judge will establish dates, times and locations for the public input hearings so that oral testimony related to the form of relief for the 717 NPA can be received from interested parties.
4. The Secretary Bureau shall cause notice of the time, place, and subject of the hearings, be published in the newspapers of general circulation in the counties and areas of the hearings.
5. A copy of the press release regarding the public input hearings shall be posted on the Commission's web site at http://www.puc.state.pa.us/.
6. A copy of this Order shall be served on all jurisdictional telecommunications carriers, wireless carriers, the Office of Consumer Advocate, the Office of Small Business Advocate and Wayne Milby and Beth Sprague of the North American Numbering Plan Administrator.
7. A copy of this order shall be published both in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and on the Commission's web site.
8. A copy of this order shall be served upon the Office of Administrative Law Judge and the Office of Communications.
JAMES J. McNULTY,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 10-82. Filed for public inspection January 8, 2010, 9:00 a.m.]
1 The NANPA is the entity that allocates numbering resources and monitors the viability of area codes to determine when all of the numbers available in the area code are nearing exhaust. The Industry Numbering Committee Guidelines provide that when an area code is nearing exhaust, the NANPA, which then becomes the NPA Relief Planner, convenes a meeting of the industry to discuss relief alternatives. NPA Code Relief Planning & Notification Guidelines, INC97-0404-016, reissued Nov. 8, 1999, at § 5.5. If the industry reaches a consensus, then its consensus plan is filed with the Commission and the Commission has an opportunity to take action at that point. NPA Code Relief Planning & Notification Guidelines, INC97-0404-016, reissued Nov. 8, 1999, at § 5.6.
2 A consensus is established when substantial agreement has been reached. Substantial agreement means more than a simple majority, but not necessarily unanimity. CLC Principles and Procedures, May 1998, at § 6.8.8.
3 47 U.S.C. § 251(e)(1).
4 See In the Matter of Petition for Declaratory Ruling and Request for Expedited Action on the July 15, 1997 Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Regarding Area Codes 412, 610, 215, 717; Implementation of the Local Competition Provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Memorandum Opinion and Order and Order on Reconsideration, 13 FCC Rcd 190029 (1998).
5 Telephone numbers consist of 10 digits. The first three digits make up the area code, and the second three digits make up the NXX code. Each NXX code contains 10,000 numbers and each area code contains approximately 792 NXX codes.
6 In 1994, the original 215 NPA in southeastern Pennsylvania was geographically split and the 610 NPA was introduced.
7 By Order entered May 21, 1998 Docket No. P-00961061, the Commission directed that the 215 and 610 NPAs, or area codes, in the southeastern portion of this Commonwealth receive individual overlay NPAs so as to address the prevailing NXX code shortage problem. The 215 NPA received the 267 overlay NPA and the 610 NPA received the 484 overlay NPA.
8 The 570 NPA was a geographic split of the 717 NPA and was activated on April 8, 1999.
9 By Order entered July 15, 1997, at P-00961027, the Commission directed that the original 412 NPA in western Pennsylvania be geographically split with the new 724 NPA. The Pittsburgh metropolitan area would retain the 412 NPA with the surrounding communities transferring to the new 724 NPA. The new 724 NPA was activated on February 1, 1998.
10 The 412 NPA was declared to be in jeopardy on October of 1999, by the NANPA. On January 19, 2000, an industry consensus was reached to institute an all services multiple overlay. Therefore, on August 17, 2001, the 878 NPA was activated and overlays both the 412 and the 724 geographic areas.
11 In the Matter of Numbering Resource Optimization, CC Docket Nos. 99-200, 96-98, NSD File No. L-99-101 (2000).
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