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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 12-167



Additional Numbering Resources to Local Exchange Carriers: Safety Valve Process; Tentative Order

[42 Pa.B. 640]
[Saturday, January 28, 2012]

Public Meeting held
January 12, 2012

Commissioners Present: Robert F. Powelson, Chairpeson; John F. Coleman, Jr., Vice Chairperson; Wayne E. Gardner; James H. Cawley; Pamela A. Witmer

Additional Numbering Resources to Local Exchange Carriers: Safety Valve Process; Doc. No. M-2008-2032767

Tentative Order

By the Commission:

 The Commission, on its own initiative, is re-examining its current ''safety valve'' numbering request process in order to further streamline and expedite the process. The safety valve process involves the Commission's delegated authority to award numbering resources to telecommunications carriers in certain situations where Neustar,1 the national numbering resource administrator, has declined a carrier's request. By this Tentative Order, the Commission hereby adopts a further streamlined safety valve numbering request process.


 In order to address the rapid growth and use of numbering resources, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued several orders implementing various methods to reduce the depletion of numbering resources.2 In these orders, the FCC delegated to state commissions the ability to monitor and enforce a carrier's compliance with the federal utilization requirements.3

 Specifically, as part of its initiative to address the depletion of numbering resources, the FCC established procedures that address growth numbering resources in its Third Report and Order.4 The FCC, in that order, reaffirmed that carriers must meet a months-to-exhaust requirement before receiving growth numbering resources so as to ensure that telephone numbers are used efficiently and that carriers are prevented from maintaining excessive inventories of numbers.5 In addition, the utility must meet the national utilization threshold requirement of 75%.6 According to the FCC's regulations, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA), Neustar, shall withhold numbering resources from any carrier based on its determination that the utility has not demonstrated a verifiable need for numbering resources and has not exhausted all other available remedies.7

 However, in that same order, the FCC also established a ''safety valve'' process8 that allows a carrier to obtain additional NXX numbers, in limited circumstances, even if a carrier is not able to meet the utilization level and months-to-exhaust thresholds discussed above that are normally required to obtain additional numbering resources.9 The safety valve process is to be used as a last resort and, to the extent possible, as a stop-gap measure to enable carriers in need of additional numbering to continue to serve their customers. The FCC delegated this authority to state commissions. As such, the Commission can provide a telecommunications carrier with additional numbering resources in a given rate center if the carrier cannot meet the demand for resources through its current inventory.

 Initially, the Commission's safety valve process involved a carrier filing a formal petition with the Commission requesting safety valve numbering relief. In that petition, the carrier needed to provide a cover letter requesting a waiver to obtain additional numbering resources; details for the request are generally set forth in an attachment. The information contained in the attachment also included a statement of the purpose of the petition, background of the customer's numbering request, an explanation as to why the carrier is unable to fulfill the customer's request with current numbering resources, and an indication that the carrier applied to Neustar (the numbering administrator) for the requested numbers and evidence that the application was denied.

 In addition, it was mandatory that the petition include a ''Thousands-Block Application Form, Part 1A,'' a months-to-exhaust and utilization certification worksheet, a copy of the written rejection from Neustar, and documentation from the end-user customer that supports the request.

 Upon receipt of the petition, the Secretary's Bureau would docket the petition and allow 20 days for an answer or response to the petition in accordance with the Commission's regulations.10 In the interim, Commission staff would draft an order for consideration by the full Commission at the Public Meeting immediately following the expiration of the 20-day answer period. After approval at Public Meeting, the order was entered and served upon the carrier and the appropriate numbering administrator.11

 At its March 27, 2008 Public Meeting, the Commission unanimously approved the motion of former Commissioner Pizzingrilli to convene a working group of interested stakeholders to examine the Commission's procedures for processing safety valve petitions. In her motion, Commissioner Pizzingrilli stated:

I believe that the Commission's current process for evaluating safety valve requests can be streamlined to improve the timeliness and efficiency with which these requests are reviewed. . . . I am confident that Pennsylvania can . . . develop a streamlined approach that will improve our current process while maintaining an appropriate level of oversight and continuing to ensure that any action taken is in the public interest.

 By its Secretarial letter issued April 2, 2008, the Commission requested that interested parties submit comments on the safety valve process.12 A working group meeting was subsequently held on May 15, 2008. Participants included AT&T, Verizon, PTA, Embarq, BCAP and Sprint.

 After reviewing the comments and meeting with the interested parties, the Commission, by Order entered November 13, 2008, at M-2008-2032767, determined that the following changes would be made to the current safety valve process: (1) requests for numbering relief shall no longer be filed in the nature of a formal petition; (2) the Commission will create a template form that companies can file when requesting numbering relief from the Commission; and (3) safety valve requests will be disposed of via Secretarial letters approved at Public Meeting.

 The Commission is now re-examining the current safety valve process to determine whether it should again revise the method of processing safety valve requests in order to further streamline the process.


 In accordance with our authority under Section 501(a) of Title 66 of the Public Utility Code, we hereby modify our November 13, 2008 to no longer require that carriers' safety valve requests be disposed of at the Commission's regularly scheduled public meetings. We believe that our initial safety valve process streamlined in November 2008 should be further modified so that Commission resources can be used more efficiently and numbering requests can be addressed within a shorter time period. We take this action because Commission staff has identified compelling reasons for doing so.

 First, safety valve requests are filed based on the specific carrier and customer needs and do not necessarily coordinate with adequate review time and subsequent disposition at a regularly scheduled public meeting. Because of customer concerns, the carriers expect a very quick turn around on their requests and often their requests are rarely filed or received by the Commission in a fashion so as to submit the request on the regular agenda for public meetings. Thus, safety valve requests may be delayed simply because of the timing of the Commission's public meetings.

 Second, for the most part, the safety valve process is both uncontested and non-adversarial. Since streamlining the procedures of the safety valve process, there have been forty-one (41) safety valve requests granted by this Commission to which there was no objection by any entity. However, at the same time, Technical Utility Services (TUS) staff works closely with each requesting carrier to ensure that its request is proper and that the carrier has efficiently utilized its current inventory of numbering resources before the Commission acts on its requests. TUS staff communications with the carrier immediately after receipt of the filing if there is any issue with their specific request and provides information to assist the carrier in resolving the issue or any discrepancies. Therefore, staff's assessment of the safety valve requests submitted by carriers is invaluable to the Commission to protect the public resource of numbering while providing numbering resources on a timely basis to carriers in need.

 Also, the Commission notes that, when it previously initiated the proceeding to streamline the safety valve process, all of the commenting parties adamantly suggested that the Commission grant Commission staff full delegated authority to dispose of safety valve requests. The parties had stated that numerous other states including New Jersey, New York and Delaware disposed of safety valve requests via administrative action. The parties believed that such delegation would expedite the safety valve process here.

 While we acknowledge that adopting such an approach would result in the streamlining of our current process, we continue to believe that safety valve requests involve scarce public resources—NXX codes or telephone numbers. Accordingly, we believe that future safety valve requests should be handled similar to the manner that the Commission currently processes pro forma transactions subject to 66 Pa.C.S. §§ 1102(a) and 1103(a). See 52 Pa. Code § 63.325(k). In particular, staff will review the safety valve request and draft the appropriate Secretarial letter. However, in this instance, the Commission will issue a Secretarial letter no later than ten days after the filing of the safety valve form by the carrier.

 We believe that a ten-day timeframe will still provide a requesting carrier with numbering resources in a reasonable amount of time while not hampering the Commission's ability to fully review each request. However, the Commission reserves the right to review safety valve requests beyond the ten-day time frame prescribed above if the carrier's information is incomplete or warrants additional review.


 Based on the foregoing, we tentatively modify the current safety valve process in the following manner: TUS Staff is solely responsible for reviewing safety valve requests and preparing the requisite Secretarial Letter addressing the request. Additionally, we suggest that the carriers submit an electronic copy of the safety valve request to TUS so that they can process the request immediately in order to ensure that the above-mentioned ten-day frame is met. Those who may oppose this process may file comments addressing their concerns; Therefore,

It Is Ordered That:

 1. The Commission will streamline the ''safety valve'' process as set forth in the body of this Tentative Order.

 2. A copy of this Tentative Order shall be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and published on our web site.

 3. If no comments are received within twenty days of the entry date of this Tentative Order, the Tentative Order shall become final without further Commission action.

 4. If the Tentative Order becomes a Final Order in accordance with Ordering Paragraph No. 3, all safety valve requests submitted to the Commission thereafter shall be processed via Secretarial Letter in the manner set forth in the body of the Tentative Order.


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 12-167. Filed for public inspection January 27, 2012, 9:00 a.m.]


1  Neustar serves as the administrator for both the North American Numbering Plan and the Pooling Administration, under separate contracts.

2  See Petition for Declaratory Order Ruling and Request for Expedited Action on the July 15, 1997 Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Regarding Area Codes 412, 610, 215, and 717, Memorandum Opinion and Order and Order on Reconsideration, CC Docket 96-98 (rel. September 28, 1998); In the Matter of Numbering Resources Optimization, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, CC Docket No. 99-200, (rel. March 31, 2000); In the matter of Numbering Optimization, Second Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration in CC Docket No. 96-98 and CC docket No. 99-200, and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in CC Docket No. 99-200, CC Dockets 99-200 and 96-98, (rel. December 29, 2000); In the Matter of Numbering Resources Optimization, Third Report and Order and Second Order on Reconsideration in CC Docket No. 96-98 and CC Docket No. 99-200, CC Docket Nos. 99-200, 96-98, and 95-116, (rel. December 28, 2001).

3  See 47 C.F.R. § 52.15(i), (j)(5).

4  In the Matter of Numbering Resource Optimization, Third Report and Order and Second Order on Reconsideration, CC Docket No. 99-200 (Order adopted December 12, 2001). The order addresses the issue of national thousand-block pooling, including pooling for non-Local Number Portability capable and wireless carriers as well as a federal cost recovery mechanism for thousand-block pooling. The order further addresses other numbering optimization measures including service-specific and technology-specific area code overlays.

5  Id. at ¶8.

6  47 C.F.R. § 52.15(g)—(h).

7  Id.

8  Id. at ¶64.

9  All applicants for growth numbering resources shall achieve a 75146432tilization threshold, calculated in accordance with the federal regulations for the rate center in which they are requesting growth numbering resources. In addition, the carrier shall provide a months-to-exhaust worksheet that provides utilization by rate center for the preceding six months and projected utilization for the next twelve months.

10  See 52 Pa. Code §§ 5.61 and 5.101.

11  National Pooling has numbering administrators for each geographic region.

12  Comments were received from AT&T, Verizon, the Pennsylvania Telephone Association (PTA), the United Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, LLC d/b/a Embarq Pennsylvania (Embarq); the Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania (BCAP); D&E Systems, Inc. (D&E); and Sprint.

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