Monday, March 24, 2008

PSC Puts 315 Area Code Changes on Hold Pending Investigation

Responding to PULP’s Motion for Interlocutory Relief in the New York State Public Service Commission’s proceeding to consider numbering relief options in the 315 area code, the Commission issued a Notice Establishing Response Time for Comments on PULP Petition and Suspending Comment Period Regarding Staff White Paper.

The Commission requested interested parties to submit comments on PULP’s Motion regarding whether any area code number change in the 315 area is necessary. Comments on PULP’s Motion are due by March 31st.

The Staff Report annexed to a March 3, 2008 PSC Notice requesting comments on various options for adding a new area code indicated that there are still millions of unused telephone numbers in the 315 area code. See PSC Considering "Area Code Relief" For 315 -- Where Did All The Numbers Go?. PULP believes that an artificial “shortage” may have arisen due to how the numbers have been allocated. See

Some of the issues PULP discovered include:

  • That a disproportionate 83 percent (656 of 792) of the central office (or NXX) codes in the 315 area code have been assigned, yet only 34 percent (2.7 million of eight million) of the telephone numbers contained in those codes are in use.
  • That numerous “thousands blocks” of telephone numbers remain available in rural areas.
  • That there is no number shortage in the urban population centers, as demonstrated by the fact that the City of Syracuse has 146 active codes of its own (1,460,000 telephone numbers) for a city of 147,306 people.
  • That in the past few years, 78 formerly single exchange rate centers in the 315 area code have received a second full NXX code, in some cases, several new NXX codes, each containing 10,000 numbers.
  • That, for example, Star Lake, a community with about 860 residents, had been served for years by Verizon with a single 10,000 number NXX code. However, in the past few years, three additional NXX codes have been assigned to Star Lake by three different competitive carriers. Now, there are 40,000 telephone numbers assigned to this exchange

Due to the costs and inconveniences to consumers and businesses tied to area code relief, PULP’s Motion argues that it should be avoided unless absolutely necessary and that numbering relief should not be commenced due to mistakes or gaming of the number allocation process, which may have caused an artificial “shortage.” PULP asked the PSC not to proceed in its consideration of several options for adding a new area code in the 315 area until further investigation of the reasons for the impending “shortage.”

The Commission suspended its previously established dates for public comment on methods for changing area codes in the 315 area without setting new dates. The Commission will now hear comments on PULP’s Motion from other active parties, mainly telephone companies, before considering any area code relief methods.

Lou Manuta

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