II. Background

The action we take today takes into consideration extensive debate over several years concerning the merits of geographic splits versus overlays. Moreover, we implement the overlay only after having pursued all reasonable efforts to ensure that numbers are being allocated efficiently, recognizing that further delay in opening a new area code would jeopardize customers' access to telephone numbers from the carrier of their choice.

The 310 area code serves Local Access and Transport Area (LATA) 7302 located in Los Angeles County. The 310 area code was created in late 1991 to relieve number exhaustion in the 213 area code. The 310 area code was subsequently split in January 1997, forming a separate 562 area code, again to replenish number supplies. Telecommunications industry representatives began another round of customer notification of impending code exhaust and the need for yet another new area code plan for the 310 area in May 1997 pursuant to the 24-month customer notification requirements of Pub. Util. Code § 7930(a).

On February 18, 1998, industry representatives submitted to the Commission yet another proposed relief plan for the 310 area code, again claiming impending numbers exhaustion. In response to that industry proposal, on May 7, 1998, the Commission issued D.98-05-021, approving a 310 area code plan to implement the first overlay ever used within California.

In D.99-09-067, however, we determined that it was premature to open a new area code at that time, and that the life of the 310 area code could be extended through more efficient utilization of number resources. In D.99-09-067, therefore, implementation of the overlay plan was suspended, and the new 424 overlay area code was not placed into service.

We subsequently implemented a multi-pronged program for more efficient utilization of existing numbers, including number pooling and related measures. On September 15, 1999, the FCC granted the Commission's April 23, 1999 Petition for Additional Delegated Authority to implement various area code conservation and relief planning measures. Paragraph 15 of the FCC Order required that in any area code in jeopardy where the Commission implements a number pooling trial, steps must be taken to adopt a relief plan that could be implemented if numbering resources were in imminent danger of being exhausted. Since the Commission in D.99-09-067 mandated a number pooling trial in the 310 area code, and suspended the implementation of the overlay, it became necessary to adopt a back-up relief plan.

In D.98-05-021, we had concluded that an overlay would have less overall adverse impact than would a split. As a basis for devising a back-up plan for the 310 area code, however, we reevaluated the merits of an overlay. Based on this reevaluation, we decided not to retain the overlay in formulating a back-up plan. Consequently, in D.00-09-073, the Commission adopted a geographic split as a back-up plan for the 310 area code.

Under the back-up plan adopted in D.00-09-073, rate centers in the southern portion of the 310 area code, including El Segundo, Hawthorne, Compton, Redondo, Lomita, Torrance, and San Pedro, would split to become the 424 area code. The northern region, including most of Inglewood, and all of Culver City, Marina Del Rey, Mar Vista, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Malibu plus a small portion of the City of Hawthorne and Ventura County, would retain the 310 area code. We deferred setting a schedule to implement the back-up plan, however, until after confirming that carrier-reported utilization data was reliable. We ordered an independent audit to make such confirmation. In the interests of avoiding the undue disruption to customers of a new area code, we have continued to defer implementation up until the present time. We now reconsider both the manner and timing of any new area code plan in response to the recently filed Petition to Modify D.00-09-073, as discussed below.

2 A "Local Access and Transport Area" is the designation for a service area covering one or more local exchanges within which local exchange carriers are authorized to provide service.

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