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California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102
PUC EFFORTS IN PRESERVING AREA CODES - 909
In an effort to preserve area codes and minimize costs to homes and businesses of changing phone numbers, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is monitoring compliance by telecommunication carriers with the telephone number conservation rules the Commission has implemented during the past three years. These rules have staved off what appeared in 1999 to be the necessity of adding 16 new area codes to California's roster of 25 area codes.
The number conservation rules have also allowed carriers to continue to receive phone numbers to serve new customers in the 310 and 909 area codes three years after the previously forecasted expiration dates of these area codes.
The Commission is continuing to petition the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) for additional authority to pursue more ambitious number conservation measures, such as a specialized overlay area code for non-geographic phone numbers (numbers used for fax machines and data transmission) and more aggressive number pooling, while planning for the eventual need for new area codes in the 310 and 909 areas. Number pooling allows for the assignment of numbers to carriers in thousand-blocks, groups of 1000 numbers, rather than whole prefixes or groups of 10,000 numbers.
The PUC has reclaimed 70 prefixes throughout California and in 2002 convinced the two largest telephone companies to donate an additional 1,790 thousand-blocks throughout California, including additional blocks donated to the 909 numberpool. Number pooling rules allow carriers to maintain up to a 6-month inventory of available numbers. Commission staff is assessing carriers' inventory levels to determine whether carriers should return more blocks to the 909 number pool.
· The 909 area code (Riverside and San Bernardino) was created when it was split from the 714 area code in 1992.
· In 1999, the PUC approved a two-phase change: a geographic split and subsequent overlay. An overlay assigns another area code over the same geographic region as the current area code. In December 1999, the PUC suspended all overlays previously approved in response to customer concern over the 310 overlay and requisite 1+10-digit dialing.
· The PUC released a report on the utilization of phone numbers in the 909 area code in November 2000, which identified 3.9 million available numbers.
· The PUC released an audit report on the 909 area code in December 2001, which identified an additional 206,000 available phone numbers.
· In April 2000, the PUC ordered a number pooling trial in the 909 area code, which began for wireline carriers on December 8, 2000. Pooling by wireless carriers began November 24, 2002. Pooling has saved an estimated 116 prefixes so far in this area code.
· In July 2000, the PUC adopted fill rate, imminent exhaust, and sequential numbering conservation rules:
o The fill rate rule requires phone companies to use 75 percent or more of the numbers they have before requesting additional numbers;
o The imminent exhaust rule requires a company to show that its supply of numbers will exhaust within 6 months before requesting numbers;
o The sequential numbering rule requires companies to use at least 75 percent of their numbers in all prior blocks before assigning numbers in the next thousand-block.
· 3.1 million numbers remain unused in the 909 area code:
o 576,000 in blocks donated to number pool;
o 80,000 in whole prefixes;
o 2.43 million in carriers' inventories
· North American Numbering Plan Administrator (the organization responsible for numbering plans for the Public Telephone Network in the U.S. and its territories) currently projects the 909 area code will run out of numbers in the fourth quarter of 2003.
Petition to Raise Pooling Contamination Level to 25 percent:
· Current pooling rules allow carriers to donate to the number pools thousand-blocks that are 10% or less contaminated (blocks with 100 or fewer customers assigned).
· Increasing the allowed contamination level will allow more blocks to be donated to the number pools, promote the Commission's goal of more efficient number usage; and help delay area code exhaust.
The FCC has not yet acted on this petition.
· The North American Number Plan Administrator submitted two alternate plans to the PUC in June 2002:
1. Two-way split plan would divide the present 909 area roughly along the boundary between San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
2. All-services overlay would cover the entire 909 area with an additional area code.
· Under the split plan, depending on whether the north side or the south side of the area code takes a new area code, up to 2.2 million customers would be affected.
· Local jurisdiction and public meetings are planned for July 2003.
· A decision by the Commission is expected by the end of 2003.
For more information on the PUC's actions to preserve area codes, please visit the PUC's website at www.cpuc.ca.gov.