Implementation of Number Conservation Measures Granted to the Commonwealth by the Federal Communications Commission in its Order Released July 20, 2000--1K Pooling; M-00001427; P-00961027F0002
[31 Pa.B. 3277]
Public Meeting held
May 24, 2001
Commissioners Present: John M. Quain, Chairperson; Robert K. Bloom, Vice Chairperson; Nora Mead Brownell; Aaron Wilson, Jr.; Terrance J. Fitzpatrick
By the Commission:
In this order, we mandate that the Commonwealth's second interim pooling trial be implemented in the Pittsburgh area on October 29, 2001. We also direct that code holders in the Pittsburgh area implement various prepooling guidelines, such as block protection, on June 25, 2001. Finally, we are seeking comments regarding the specifics of this second interim pooling trial as discussed. We do not see resolution of these specific comments as a hindrance to the ability of this second pooling trial to be implemented on October 29, 2001.
Both Federal and State statutes have created the opportunity for new telephone companies to compete against existing companies for local telephone business.1 These statutes were designed to foster competition in the telecommunications marketplace with the hope of ultimately lowering prices and improving choices for consumers. Unfortunately, however, the proliferation of fax machines, computer modems, cellular phones and competitive carriers in the local service market have created an unprecedented demand for NXX codes.2 Consequently, area codes are rapidly exhausting in this Commonwealth and Nationwide.
The Commission, in addition to other state and Federal regulators as well as the telecommunications industry, has been dedicated to finding a solution for this complex numbering problem for several years. Efforts have focused both on developing methods of allocating numbers more efficiently and on developing methods for increasing carriers' accountability for their numbering resources. Number pooling is a number conservation measure with the potential of significantly slowing the depletion of numbering resources. ''Pooling'' refers to sharing spare resources; thousands-block pooling (1K pooling) is a method of assigning those resources. In number pooling, there is an inventory of telephone numbers that participating service providers3 share and use in groups of 1,000 numbers. The entity responsible for monitoring the pool and allocating the resources in the pool is known as the Pooling Administrator. Numbers are added to the pool through 1,000 block donations from service providers. When these resources are not enough, then the Pooling Administrator will seek a 10,000 block (or NXX) code assignment from the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA).4
The Commission has long advocated the benefits of 1K pooling for this Commonwealth and has been attempting to implement this number conservation measure for over 4 years. The Commission first ordered 1K pooling to be implemented in the 717, 215 and 610 numbering plan areas (NPAs or area codes) in its July 15, 1997, order at P-00961027, P-00961061 and P-00961071. Unfortunately, however, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) curtailed the Commission's efforts in the fall of 1998 by ruling that the Commission did not have the authority to implement such a measure without receiving approval from the FCC.5 But, the FCC did determine that state commissions could file petitions with it requesting such authority. Consequently, the Commission filed its Petition for Delegated Authority to Implement Number Conservation Measures, CC Docket No. 96-98, on December 27, 1999, and requested, among other initiatives, the authority to implement 1K pooling.
On March 31, 2000, the FCC released its National number pooling order (FCC's Numbering Order) which establishes, in addition to other number conservation measures, a National framework for 1K pooling and a National rollout for pooling to begin 9 months after the FCC names a National pooling administrator.6 Regarding the Commission's request to implement 1K pooling in this Commonwealth, the FCC's Numbering Order directed the Commission to file a supplement to its pending petition for delegated authority demonstrating that: 1) an NPA is in jeopardy; 2) the NPA in question has a remaining life span of at least a year; and 3) the NPA is in one of the largest 100 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs)7 , or alternatively, that the majority of wireline carriers in the NPA are local number portability (LNP) capable.
The Commission filed a supplement to its petition for delegated authority to implement number conservation measures on April 25, 2000. The Commission asserted that both 412 and 610/484 fell within the criteria specified by the FCC and would be appropriate for 1K pooling. Also, the Commission indicated that the 724, 717, 570 and 215/267 NPAs would benefit from 1K pooling based on the history of their life expectancy and the Commission's experience with them since 1996.
On July 20, 2000, the FCC issued an order (FCC's Delegation Order) granting the Commission's request to implement 1K pooling on an interim trial basis.8 Using this authority, the Commission implemented the Commonwealth's first interim 1K pooling trial on April 27, 2001, in the 610/484 NPAs.9 When this trial opened, the carriers participating in the pooling trial donated 2.5 million numbers to the pool which would have been unavailable for use by other carriers in a nonpooling environment. Additionally, in the process of opening the pooling trial, approximately 66 full NXX codes were or are going to be returned to the NANPA. Consequently, in the opening stages of this pooling trial in 610/484, approximately three million numbers were recycled and were made available for assignment to service providers without the need to open new additional NXX codes. We believe that a pooling trial in the Pittsburgh area will be just as successful.
Therefore, now that the Commonwealth's first interim 1K pooling trial is fully implemented, the Commission is anxious to use its FCC delegated authority to implement its second interim 1K pooling trial in the Pittsburgh area so that these consumers can receive the benefits of this number conservation measure. The Commission remains committed to having adequate numbering resources available to all telecommunications providers while being mindful of the impact of proliferating new area codes on this Commonwealth's citizens. By implementing 1K pooling in combination with other number conservation measures,10 the Commission will better ensure that telecommunications carriers have adequate numbering resources without needing to resort to adding new area codes.
Through this order, we will mandate that the Commonwealth's second interim pooling trial be implemented in the Pittsburgh area on October 29, 2001, as modified by the resolution of the comments we are inviting. We intend to adopt another order at our July 12, 2001, Public Meeting in consideration of the comments we receive.
I. The Date Established for the Commonwealth's Second Interim Pooling Trial
The Commission has determined that the Commonwealth's second interim 1K pooling trial should be fully implemented on October 29, 2001. This date takes into consideration the following factors. First, there will be a 20-day comment period for this order before we issue our final pooling order in July. The industry has indicated in the past that they need approximately 3 months after the date of the final pooling order before the pooling implementation date in which to prepare. This timeline fulfills that need.
Second, this implementation date will not hinder the success of the pooling trial for several reasons. First, rationing will continue in both the 412 and 878 NPAs until February 17, 2002, so the Commission is not concerned about the potential unnecessary assignment of NXX codes from the 412 NPA. Second, we do not expect any 878 NXX codes to be assigned to carriers between August 2001, and October 2001, because of the availability of NXX codes in both the 412 and 724 NPAs. The relief plan for the overlay implementation states that no NXX codes from the 878 NPA should be assigned until the NXX codes from the underlying NPAs are exhausted. In the 412 NPA, there are approximately 107 NXX codes left and in the 724 NPA, there are approximately 111 NXX codes left.11 Third, all service providers are required by Federal rules to assign all available telephone numbers within an opened thousands-block before assigning telephone numbers from an uncontaminated thousands-block.12 Consequently, even if any NXX codes were to be allocated to carriers from the 878 NPA, they would contain a significant number of uncontaminated 1K blocks that can be subsequently used in the pooling trial.
The third reason we will order our second interim 1K pooling trial to be implemented on October 29, 2001, is based on paragraph 159 of the FCC's Numbering Order.13 In that paragraph, the FCC tentatively concluded that National rollout of pooling would encompass a maximum of three NPAs in each Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC)14 region per quarter. Using this as guidance, and because we are cognizant of the work involved in pooling by the carriers, most of which operate in several states throughout each NPAC region and Nationwide, we are willing to take into consideration the pooling schedules of the other states in the Mid-Atlantic region.15 Currently, we understand that Maryland and Virginia will be turning up pooling trials from July through October 2001. In light of this schedule, Commission staff has been informally advised by the industry that our October 29, 2001, date is feasible for pooling in the Pittsburgh area.
II. Requirements for All Carriers
Under Federal rules effective July 17, 2000, all service providers are required to assign all available telephone numbers within an opened thousands-block before assigning telephone numbers from an uncontaminated thousands-block. See 47 CFR 52.15(j)(1). This requirement applies to a service provider's existing numbering resources as well as to any new numbering resources it obtains in the future. Additionally, the new Federally-mandated utilization rate went into effect on May 8, 2001. Per 47 CFR 52.15(h), carriers requesting growth codes in a particular rate center will need to show that they have achieved a 60% utilization threshold in the codes they already have in that rate center.
III. Additional Requirements for All LNP-Capable Carriers in the Pittsburgh Area
In this order, we are establishing various preimplementation guidelines for LNP-capable code holders in the Pittsburgh area in advance of the October 29, 2001, implementation date for our second interim 1K pooling trial. These measures are to ensure that remaining numbering resources are not consumed inefficiently while pooling mechanisms are being developed. By this order we will expressly require that all LNP-capable carriers in the Pittsburgh area implement the following on June 25, 2001:
1. All code holders administer their codes in blocks of thousand numbers on a rate center basis.
2. All code holders set aside (that is, restrict from assignment in their telephone administration systems) all unopened thousand blocks currently assigned to them, unless no other numbers are available.
3. All code holders refrain from assigning numbers from any thousands block in an NXX with 100 or fewer numbers currently in use unless no other numbers are available.
IV. Implementation of the Commonwealth's Second Interim 1K Pooling Trial in 412/724/878
Under paragraphs 45 and 46 of the FCC's Delegation Order,16 the Commission can implement 1K pooling in the Philadelphia MSA and in the Pittsburgh MSA. Further, the Commission can implement 1K pooling in any new NPA implemented to relieve number shortages in these two MSAs. However, the Commission must first implement 1K pooling in a single MSA and may not expand to another MSA until pooling has been fully implemented in the initial one. Now that the Commonwealth's first interim 1K pooling trial is implemented in the Philadelphia area, we plan to move forward with the implementation of a second pooling trial in the Pittsburgh MSA.
The 412 NPA was one of the Commonwealth's original four area codes. On July 15, 1997, the 412 NPA was split by Commission Order at P-00961027 with the new 724 NPA activated on February 1, 1998. The 412 NPA encompasses Allegheny county. The 724 NPA is comprised of Crawford, Mercer, Lawrence, Butler, Venango, Clarion, Armstrong, Beaver, Allegheny, Indiana, Westmoreland, Fayette, Washington and Greene counties.
The 412 NPA was declared to be in jeopardy17 on November 29, 1999, by the NANPA. On July 9, 1999, an industry consensus was reached to institute an all services multiple overlay. Therefore, on August 17, 2001, the 878 NPA will be activated and will overlay both the 412 and the 724 geographic areas.
The Commission will order a pooling trial in all three NPAs in the Pittsburgh area based on the following reasons. First, the Commission has the authority to implement pooling in the 412 NPA and any NPA ordered to provide relief, thereby permitting pooling in both 412 and 878. Second, the Commission has the delegated authority to implement pooling in the Pittsburgh MSA which is served by both the 412 and the 724 NPAs.18 Third, the industry consensus relief plan to implement the same 878 NPA overlay over both the 412 and 724 NPAs indicates to us that, despite the 412/724 NPA split, this area is still considered to be one geographic region; therefore, pooling in the entire area is logical. Finally, when the 878 NPA does open, we do not want the availability of 878 NXX codes to the 724 NPA region on a nonpooling basis to diminish the success a pooling trial in the 412/724/878 NPAs could have for all consumers in the Pittsburgh area.
V. Who Should Implement the Pittsburgh Area Pooling Trial and All Future Commonwealth Pooling Trials?
The Commission's current interim 1K pooling trial in the 610/484 NPAs is being administered by NeuStar, Inc. In our final pooling order entered December 27, 2000, we indicated that NeuStar would be the pooling administrator for that pooling trial only, and we would give any company interested in administering our second interim pooling trial an opportunity to file comments explaining why they should be selected. We have also decided that the pooling administrator selected for the Pittsburgh pooling trial would also be selected to conduct any other future pooling trials which may be implemented in this Commonwealth.
We are also aware that, under the FCC's Numbering Order,19 the FCC is currently in the process of naming a National pooling administrator. Although a decision was expected at the end of March 2001, the FCC still has not named a National pooling administrator. We believe that the company selected as the National pooling administrator should also administer the Commonwealth's second pooling trial. However, we do not want the fact that the National pooling administrator has not been named to push back the implementation date of the Commonwealth's second interim 1K pooling trial. Therefore, without direction from the FCC at this time, we will seek comment about who should administer the Commonwealth's second interim pooling trial. If, however, between now and July 2001, the FCC names a National pooling administrator, then we will also select that company as our pooling administrator for the 412/724/878 interim 1K pooling trial.
In the meantime, we now invite comments from any company interested in administering our second interim 1K pooling trial regarding their qualifications, experience and ability to implement a successful interim pooling trial in the Pittsburgh area as well as any future Commonwealth pooling trials. Also, the Commission is interested in the industry's opinion regarding the selection of an interim Pooling Administrator.
VI. Should the Rationing Plan in the 412 And 878 NPAs be Continued After the Implementation of a Pooling Trial?
The 412 NPA was declared to be in jeopardy in October of 1999, and the industry subsequently reached a consensus to ration NXX codes there at the rate of six per month. Using the authority we were delegated in the FCC's Delegation Order,20 we entered an order on December 27, 2000, at M-00001427F0002 and P-00961027 ordering that the rationing plan continue for 6 months after implementation of the 878 overlay. Consequently, rationing at a rate of six per month will continue in the 412 NPA until February 17, 2002. Further, if any NXX codes are assigned from the 878 overlay to rate centers in the 412 NPA, those will also be rationed at the rate of six per month.
The Commission is seeking comments regarding the necessity of continuing this rationing plan until February 2002, once the interim pooling trial is implemented in the Pittsburgh area. More specifically, we are interested in whether there is a benefit to having both a pooling trial and a rationing plan in the same NPAs. Also, if the rationing plan were to continue with the pooling trial, are all the carriers participating in the pooling trial considered as one when making code requests to NANPA Code administration? In other words, if there is no pooling then all carriers have an equal chance at getting NXX codes through the rationing process. But, in a pooling situation, the pooling administrator is in charge of receiving NXX codes from NANPA Code Administrator to fulfill the needs of the pool. Therefore, when the pooling administrator makes a request for an NXX code from the NANPA, should the pooling administrator receive a priority because it is representing several companies?
Because the Commission is concerned about the current availability and usage of numbering resources and the impact of proliferating new area codes on consumers as well as telecommunications carriers, the Commission intends to implement its second interim 1K pooling trial on October 29, 2001, in the Pittsburgh area. By taking this step to conserve and more efficiently use valuable numbering resources, the Commission will better ensure that telecommunications carriers have adequate numbering resources to operate in this Commonwealth; Therefore,
It is Ordered that:
1. The Commonwealth's second interim pooling trial will be implemented in the Pittsburgh area on October 29, 2001.
2. On June 25, 2001, all LNP-capable carriers in the Pittsburgh area shall implement the various preimplementation guidelines set forth in this order.
3. Comments regarding this tentative order be filed with the Commission no later than 15 days after this order is published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. No reply comments will be permitted.
4. A copy of this order be served to all code holders in this Commonwealth, the Office of Consumer Advocate, the Office of Small Business Advocate, the North American Number Plan Administrator, NeuStar and Telecordia Technologies.
5. A copy of this tentative order shall be published both in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and on the Commission's website at http://puc.paonline.com/.
JAMES J. MCNULTY,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 01-1102. Filed for public inspection June 15, 2001, 9:00 a.m.]
1 See, The Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C.A. § 251(e)(1), and Chapter 30 of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Code, 66 Pa.C.S. §§ 3001--3009.
2 NXX codes are the three digits following the area code in a 10-digit telephone number. Under the current infrastructure, telephone numbers are assigned to carriers by NXX code (which contains 10,000 numbers). Consequently, even if a carrier has only 10 customers, 10,000 numbers are still assigned in that area code causing 9,990 numbers to remain unused and unavailable. The result of this is that the amount of NXX codes in an area code exhaust so that a new area code needs to be instituted to generate new NXX codes, and hence, new numbers available for assignment.
3 To be able to participate in 1K pooling a carrier must be LNP-capable. See Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Matter of Numbering Resource Optimization, CC Docket No. 99-200, 15 FCC Rcd 7574, ¶ 116 (2000). Although the telephone network is designed to route traffic based on the assignment of an NXX code (10,000 numbers) to one specific carrier, the introduction of LNP has begun to make the network more flexible. Because LNP enables the switch-specific restriction of telephone number assignments to be removed, any telephone number can be assigned to any switch offering service in the telephone number's rate center. Consequently, all LNP-capable providers who service a particular rate area can share all telephone number resources. By making the entire spare number inventory available to many providers, telephone number utilization can be improved and NPA lives extended. Service providers who cannot participate in the pool would continue to receive NXX codes from the code administrator in 10,000 blocks.
4 The NANPA is the entity responsible for allocating numbering resources to telecommunications carriers and monitoring the life span of area codes. The NANPA works under a contract with the FCC.
5 In the Matter of Petition for Declaratory Ruling and Request for Expedited action on July 15, 1997 Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Regarding Area Codes 412, 610, 215, 717; Implementation of the Local Competition Provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Memorandum Opinion and Order and Order on Reconsideration, 13 FCC Rcd 190029 (1998). (FCC's Pennsylvania Order).
6 See Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Matter of Numbering Resource Optimization, CC Docket No. 99-200, 15 FCC Rcd 7574 (2000). (FCC's Numbering Order). In this Report and Order, the FCC established new policies and rules to reduce the need for new area codes and addressed two of the major factors that contribute to numbering resource exhaust--the absence of regulatory, industry or economic control over requests for numbering resources and the allocation of numbers in blocks of 10,000 regardless of the carrier's actual need. In addition, the FCC mandated that carriers assign all available telephone numbers within an opened thousands-block before opening another thousands-block and this requirement applies to both a carrier's existing numbering resources and any future numbering resources. See 47 CFR § 52.15(j)(1).
7 MSAs are geographic areas designated by the Bureau of Census for purposes of collecting and analyzing data. The boundaries of MSAs are defined using statistics that are widely recognized as indications of metropolitan character. See Policy and Rules Concerning Rates for Dominant Carriers, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 115, 8122 (1997). See also http://www.census.gov/.
8 In the Matter of Numbering Resource Optimization, CC Docket Nos. 99-200, 96-98, NSD File No. L-99-101. (FCC's Delegation Order). Beyond 1K pooling, this order also grants the Commission authority to do the following: 1) maintain rationing procedures for 6 months following implementation of NPA relief; 2) implement NXX code sharing (after investigating it, reporting results to FCC, and determining that it is feasible and economically viable); and 3) hear and address claims for an extraordinary need for numbering resources in an NPA subject to a rationing plan.
9 Implementation of Number Conservation Measures Granted to Pennsylvania by the Federal Communications Commission in its Order released July 20, 2000--Thousands-Block Number Pooling, Opinion and Order Regarding the Petition of Verizon Pennsylvania Inc. For Expedited Reconsideration, Docket Numbers M-00001427 and P-00961061F0002 (Order entered February 9, 2001).
10 See Implementation of Number Conservation Measures Granted to Pennsylvania by the Federal Communications Commission in its Order released March 31, 2000--NXX Code Reclamation, Docket No. M-00001373 (Order entered August 22, 2000), 30 Pa. B. 4701 (September 2, 2000) (Commission established process for reclaiming NXX codes from carriers who have failed to activate them within 6 months of their availability for assignment to customers.); Implementation of Number Conservation Measures Granted to Pennsylvania by the Federal Communications Commission in its Order released July 20, 2000--NXX Code Rationing, Docket Nos. M-00001427 and P-00961027F0002 (Order entered December 27, 2000) (Commission ordered that NXX code rationing would continue in the 412 and 878 area codes at a rate of six per month until February 17, 2002); Rate Center Consolidation, Docket No. M-00011452 (Order entered February 9, 2001) (Commission creates subcommittee charged with the responsibility of creating a plan for implementing rate center consolidation in this Commonwealth and submitting that plan to the Commission by August 1, 2001); and, Implementation of Number Conservation Measures Granted to Pennsylvania by the Federal Communications Commission in its Order Released July 20, 2000--NXX Code Sharing, Docket Number M-00001427F0002 (Order entered February 26, 2001), 31 Pa.B. 1428 (March 10, 2001) (Commission sought comments regarding NXX code sharing).
11 See www.nanpa.com.
12 47 CFR § 52.15(j)(1). See also infra Section II.
13 FCC's Numbering Order supra note 6 at ¶ 159.
14 The NPAC was developed to support the implementation of LNP and it provides supporting turn-key and operational services, coordinates the porting of telephone numbers between carriers and downloads routing information to carriers' local Service Management Systems to update local routing databases. The NPAC is divided into seven regions across the United States: Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Western and West Coast. More information can be found at www.npac.com.
15 The Mid-Atlantic NPAC region consists of the Commonwealth, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia.
16 FCC's Delegation Order supra note 8 at ¶¶45 and 46.
17 Under the Central Office Code (NXX) Assignment Guidelines, ''a jeopardy condition exists when the forecasted and/or actual demand for NXX resources will exceed the known supply during the planning/implementation interval for relief.'' Central Office Code (NXX) Assignment Guidelines at 48 (INC 95-0407-008, June 19, 2000). A copy of these guidelines can be obtained from www.atis.org.
18 According to the MSA boundaries as defined on June 30, 1999, by the Federal Office of Management and Budget, the Pittsburgh MSA contains the following counties: Butler, Beaver, Allegheny, Westmoreland, Washington and Fayette. All of the 412 NPA is in Allegheny county. The 724 NPA contains all of these counties, three additional entire counties--Mercer, Lawrence and Greene--that are not considered to be in the Pittsburgh MSA, and parts of four other counties--Crawford, Venango, Clarion, Armstrong, and Indiana--that are not considered to be part of the Pittsburgh MSA. See http://www.census.gov/.
19 FCC's Numbering Order supra note 6 at ¶¶ 143--155.
20 FCC's Delegation Order supra note 8 at ¶ 63.
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