Monday, June 15, 2009

PSC Acknowledges 315 Area Code Change is Not Needed

With the release of a three sentence Notice on June 15th, the New York State Public Service Commission ("PSC") brought an end to a proceeding to provide area code "relief" to the 315 area code region in central New York. This case began with a December 2007 Order to resolve the apparent diminishing availability of exchange (or NXX) codes in this area, a problem created by the PSC itself when it assigned multiple 10,000 telephone number NXX codes to competing phone companies in rural communities.

PULP identified this issue of waste and stranding of unused numbers in filings over the ensuing months - contending that a new area code should not be necessary for the mostly rural area with about 1.4 million residents and asking the PSC to reconsider its action:
The Commission defended its action, saying it was correct in how it allocated upwards of 50,000 telephone numbers to each of over 50 tiny rural exchanges with just a couple of thousand residents each, stranding hundreds of thousands of telephone numbers that could have been used elsewhere.

Until today, the Commission had forged ahead with the proposal to add a new area code, and decided to implement it with an "overlay" code. If the "overlay" had been implemented, new numbers within the existing 315 area code would have a different area code, requiring the public to use ten-digit dialing instead of the current seven-digit dialing to make local calls. A company across the street or across town could have a different area code, requiring changes in signs, advertising, and directories. The legislature began to review the PSC's process for deciding whether to add area codes. In the 315 case, the PSC only had public hearings on how to implement a new area code ("split" versus "overlay") and refused to hold an on-the-record proceeding to hear evidence on whether to add a new area code. See Bill Would Require PSC to More Closely Scrutinize Area Code Changes. The Assembly passed the bill last month.

While the Notice does state that the 315 area code proceeding will merely be “held in abeyance” until the need for relief has arrived, with 100 NXX codes still available (with 10,000 telephone numbers each) and no NXX codes being requested at all in 2009, the case should be in "abeyance" for at least 10 or 20 years. The residents of the 315 area will thus be spared the cost and inconvenience of an unnecessary area code change.

Lou Manuta

See No New Area Code for Syracuse,, June 15, 2009

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