ALJ/TRP/sid Mailed 7/24/2000
Decision 00-07-053 July 20, 2000
BEFORE THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Order Instituting Rulemaking on the Commission's Own Motion into Competition for Local Exchange Service.
(Filed April 26, 1995)
Order Instituting Investigation on the Commission's Own Motion into Competition for Local Exchange Service.
(Filed April 26, 1995)
O P I N I O N
By this decision, we order a deferral of the previously adopted implementation schedules for new area codes in the 707 and 760 Numbering Plan Areas (NPAs). The Commission previously adopted area code relief plans for the 760 and 707 NPAs in Decision (D.) 99-07-017 and D.99-12-049, respectively. Deferrals of these relief plans will provide an opportunity to determine the feasibility of extending the life of existing numbering resources through more efficient number utilization measures in each of the NPAs. In view of the well documented disruption to customers caused by changes to their area code, it is in the public interest to assure that new area codes are opened only after all feasible means of utilizing existing number resources have been exhausted.
An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ruling was issued on May 1, 2000, soliciting comments concerning the proposal to defer the implementation schedule for the above-referenced 707 and 760 NPA relief plans. Comments in response were filed by Pacific Bell (Pacific), GTE California, Inc. (GTEC), and
GTE Wireless, Inc., the Cellular Carriers Association of California (CCAC), and joint comments were filed by the California Cable Television (CCTA), AT&T Communications of California, MCI WorldCom, Inc. NEXTLINK California, Inc. Time Warner Telecom, LP, Advanced TelCom Group, Inc., and PacWest Telecom, Inc. We have reviewed parties' comments and take them into account, in preparing this order.
Parties filing comments all oppose any deferral in the implementation of either the 707 or 760 NPA splits. While the parties generally acknowledge the desirability of deferring the creation of new area codes on a statewide basis, they argue that the Commission must not do so unless there is evidence that relief can be deferred without depriving customers of telecommunications services from their provider of choice, as is required by federal law. They claim there is no evidence before the Commission to support deferral of 707 or 760 NPA relief.
The ALJ Ruling noted that the Commission's Telecommunications Division (TD) was due to release a status report providing updated information on the 707 NPA number utilization and conservation measures. The TD Report was issued on May 1, 2000. After review of that Report, parties argue that it offers nothing to legitimize the overturning of the past Commission decisions.
The Report concludes that the Commission is "actively studying" the feasibility of various number conservation measures and exploring the limits of its authority under recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rulings and state legislation, and that what will happen in the 707 NPA will depend heavily on those studies. The parties argue that the Report's reliance on future studies provides insufficient justification to suspend area code relief in the 707 NPA now. Likewise, the parties claim the absence of any status report for the 760 NPA suggests the Commission lacks justification for the recission of D.99-07-017.
GTEC questions whether pooling could be implemented in the 707 or 760 NPA soon enough to prevent, or delay to any significant extent, the need to implement area code relief. In both the 707 and 760 NPAs, there are a number of rate centers that are non-Local Number Portability (LNP) capable. For example, in the 707 NPA, there are 75 rate centers of which GTEC has 12. Eight of GTEC's rate centers are not located within the top 100 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). These rate centers could not participate in any pooling effort ordered. Further, if the Commission, as with the 310 pooling effort, were to set aside for pooling purposes one code per rate center, this would significantly impact the number of codes left over for use by non-pooling carriers (including wireless carriers) and in rate centers which are not LNP capable. For example, in the 760 NPA, there are 83 rate centers, of which GTEC has 52. Twelve of GTEC's 52 rate centers are not LNP capable and 17 are not located within one of the top 100 MSAs. Additionally, the part of the 760 area code is within the top 100 MSA split between two of those MSAs, Riverside-San Bernardino and Bakersfield.
Parties also argue that reducing the number of codes available in the lottery each month does not address the real issue of ensuring that adequate resources are available, but is simply limiting the carriers' ability to obtain numbers. The FCC Order granting the Commission additional number authority1 stated that the additional authority was not intended to allow the Commission to engage in number conservation measures to the exclusion of, or as a substitute for unavoidable and timely area code relief.
CCAC also objects to the shortness of time for parties to file objections to the proposed NPA split plan deferrals. CCTA argues that a single round of comments does not afford parties adequate notice and opportunity to be heard on the proposal, as is contemplated by Section 1708 of the Public Utilities Code. Section 1708 requires that the Commission provide parties notice and opportunity to be heard as provided in the case of complaints anytime it desires to rescind, alter or amend a prior order or decision. The California Supreme Court has determined that "opportunity to be heard" in this context has been defined to mean:
The phrase "opportunity to be heard" implies at the very least that a party must be permitted to prove the substance of its protest rather than merely being allowed to submit written objections to a proposal.2
CCAC argues that the opportunity to submit one round of comments on only 15 days' notice does not permit any party an adequate opportunity to prove the substance of their objections to the proposal to defer NPA relief. CCAC accordingly requests that the Commission convene evidentiary hearings or similar proceedings on the proposal to modify the two decisions implementing the NPA relief plans.
Pacific also raises the concern that deferral of the NPA implementation schedules at this late date may create the risk that persons will not be able to complete calls into these area codes and customers may not be able to receive calls from other areas because previously completed switch translations to the new area codes may not be reversed in time. When an area code split is ordered, the prefixes that are moving to the new area code are posted in the Local Exchange Routing Guide (LERG). This allows carriers nationwide to begin translations work in their switches, which in turn allow calls to be accurately routed. If the area code splits are not implemented as scheduled, Pacific thus raises the possibility that any translations work that has already begun will not be timely reversed.1 In the Matter of California Public Utilities Commission Petition for Delegation of Additional Authority Pertaining to Area Code Relief and NXX Code Conservation Measures, CC Docket No. 96-98, FCC 99-248 (Sept 15, 1999) (FCC Order). 2 California Trucking Ass'n v. Public Utilities Comm'n, 19 Cal. 3d 240, 244 (1977) ("CTA").