Friday, May 23, 2008

Bill Would Require PSC to More Closely Scrutinize Telephone Area Code Changes

State Assembly members have filed a bill, A11082, that would require the Public Service Commission to more closely scrutinize the need for telephone area code changes, and to investigate in a public evidentiary process the possibility of avoiding the cost and inconvenience of unnecessary area code changes by reclaiming existing numbers that are unused and thus stranded in sparsely populated areas. The memorandum in support of the bill indicates that it would apply to the pending consideration of a new area code in the current 315 area code region in central New York.

An identical bill was introduced in the Senate, S08506

There are more than 5 million unused numbers currently in the 315 area, but in recent years many local exchange codes with blocks of 10,000 numbers each were allocated to sparsely populated localities in rural areas that would appear to have no need for them. The PSC last month decided to go ahead with plans to create a new area code in the 315 region, denying a request by PULP for an on the record proceeding to examine necessity of the action and the possibility of freeing up redundant blocks of 10,000 numbers now stranded in areas where there is no need for them. See PSC Denies Request for Open Inquiry and Continues with 315 Area Code Changes.

In late 2007 the PSC finally halted its practice of giving out numbers 10,000 at a time in rural areas of 315, and implemented a 1,000 number at a time system. In the brief period since implementation of that reform
  • the rate of NXX codes issued for the 315 area has fallen drastically, with only one net new NXX assigned in the first quarter of 2008
  • some unused NXX codes have been returned by telephone companies and made available to meet needs anywhere in the 315 area
  • the number of available NXX codes for use anywhere within the 315 area has risen to 100 from a low of 93 in mid-2007
  • NANPA extended a projected number exhaustion date, and
  • an April 2008 NANPA website report does not indicate that the 315 area code is in "jeopardy" of exhausting its numbers.
PULP has asked the PSC to reconsider its action and to hold a public hearing to determine if redundant NXX codes allocated in recent years to sparsely populated areas, which may be only slightly used, can be "decontaminated" and reclaimed for use where there is a real need, preventing cost and inconvenience to millions of telephone customers. See PULP Asks PSC to Reconsider Refusal to Investigate Alternative to New Area Code in 315.

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