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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 11-25



Numbering Plan Area Relief Planning for the 814 NPA

[41 Pa.B. 122]
[Saturday, January 1, 2011]

Public Meeting held
December 16, 2010

Commissioners Present: James H. Cawley, Chairperson; Tyrone J. Christy, Vice Chairperson; John F. Coleman, Jr.; Wayne E. Gardner; Robert F. Powelson

Petition of the North American Numbering Plan Administrator on behalf of the Pennsylvania Telecommunications Industry for Approval of
Numbering Plan Area Relief Planning
for the 814 NPA; P-2009-2112925

Final Order

By the Commission:

 In this order, the Commission revisits the issue of area code exhaust1 and the implementation of relief to address such exhaust. On June 9, 2009, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA), Neustar, Inc. (Neustar), in its role as the neutral third party Numbering Plan Area (NPA) Relief Planner for Pennsylvania,2 acting on behalf of the Pennsylvania telecommunications industry (Industry) filed a petition with the Commission requesting approval of its plan for the 814 Numbering Plan Area (''NPA'' or ''area code''). The Commission, therefore, is faced with deciding which form of area code relief should be implemented for the 814 area code and when the new area code must be added.


 The 814 area code is one of Pennsylvania's original four area codes. It was established in 1947. The geographic area covered by the 814 area code generally comprises the central portion of the state. The 814 NPA extends in a northerly direction to the borders of the state of New York, in a westerly direction towards the borders of the state of Ohio, and in a southerly direction to the borders of the state of Maryland. The 814 NPA is divided into 178 rate centers which encompass twenty-six counties and includes such cities as State College, Altoona, Johnstown, Somerset and Erie.

 Much of the information leading to the current area code relief process for the 814 NPA can be found in prior Commission orders. Therefore, we will not go into much detail in this order. Relief planning for the 814 area code initially began in 2002 when the 2001 Number Resource Utilization Forecast (NRUF) and NPA Exhaust Analysis June 1, 2001 Update (2001 NRUF Report)3 indicated that the 814 NPA would exhaust during the first quarter of 2005. Consequently, the telecommunications industry met on March 21, 2002, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to discuss various relief alternatives that were set forth in the Initial Planning Document (IPD) that NANPA had distributed to them pursuant to the NPA Relief Planning Guidelines. The IPD contained descriptions, maps, general facts and assumptions, and the projected lives of a total of five relief alternatives consisting of three two-way geographic split alternatives, referred to in the IPD as Alternatives #1, #2 and #5, an all-services distributed overlay relief alternative, referred to as Alternative #3 and a technology specific overlay, referred to as Alternative #4.

 At this March 21st meeting, the participants discussed the attributes of the relief alternatives and reached consensus to recommend to the Commission Alternative #3, the all-services distributed overlay plan, as the preferred method of relief for the 814 NPA. The all-services distributed overlay, would superimpose a new NPA over the same geographic area covered by the existing 814 NPA. All existing customers would retain the 814 area code and would not have to change their telephone numbers. Consistent with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations, the relief plan would require 10-digit dialing for all local calls within and between the 814 NPA and the new NPA. The Industry further recommended that calls between NPAs be dialed using 1+10-digits and 0+10 dialing for operator assisted calls. Lastly, Industry participants reached consensus to recommend to the Commission a thirteen-month schedule for implementation of the overlay.

 However, due to the implementation of the number conservation measure 1,000-block (1K) number pooling4 in the 814 area code, the 814 area code experienced an unprecedented, efficient use its numbering resources, which, in turn, lengthened the life expectancy of the 814 area code. The Industry acknowledged the disruption to customers caused by changes in their area code, especially when implementing such area code relief is no longer necessary. Consequently, the Industry decided to delay filing the petition for relief until such time that future NRUF reports indicated a more immediate need.

 Subsequently, the April 2009 NRUF Report indicated that the 814 NPA was projected to exhaust all of its available NXX codes during the third quarter of 2012. After the release of the April 2009 NRUF Report, the Industry met via conference call to re-initiate the 814 area code relief process and decided to file an updated petition for relief with the Commission recommending the same relief as before, an all-services distributed overlay. That petition was filed with the Commission on June 9, 2009.

 By an Order entered July 29, 2009, the Commission denied the Industry's recommendation and requested written comments from interested parties on the five relief alternatives that had initially been presented by Neustar to the telecommunications industry at the March 21, 2002 meeting. Thereafter, by an Order entered January 28, 2010, the Commission scheduled five public input hearings in various cities located throughout the 814 NPA to receive comments and discuss the relief alternatives.5

 The Commission has reviewed the written comments and the transcripts of the public input hearings regarding which form of area code relief should be implemented upon the exhaust of the 814 NPA and the timeframe for the implementation of the relief. The Commission would like to express its sincere thanks to those that submitted written comments in this proceeding and to those who attended and participated in the public input hearings and offered their concerns and suggestions regarding which form of area code relief the Commission should implement for the 814 area code. In particular, the Commission notes the comments submitted by the Honorable State Representatives Carl Metzgar and John Hornaman, the Office of Consumer Advocate and the Borough of Somerset. The Commission has taken all of this into consideration in resolving the question of area code relief for the 814 area code.


 When the supply of numbers available within an NPA, or area code, is estimated to exhaust, some form of area code relief must be implemented so that customers in that area can continue to obtain the services they desire from the carrier of their choice. Pursuant to Section 251(e) of the Act, 47 U.S.C. § 251(e), the FCC delegated authority to state commissions to direct the form of area code relief in such situations. The FCC has adamantly maintained that state commissions cannot engage in number conservation measures to the exclusion of, or as a substitute for, timely area code relief.6

 The latest NRUF Report indicates that the 814 NPA is now projected to exhaust its remaining supply of telephone numbers by the first quarter of 2013. We believe that this change in the projected forecast date for the 814 NPA is due in part to our efforts before the FCC to have it grant us the authority to implement mandatory 1K number pooling statewide.7 Nonetheless, in accordance with the FCC's directives, we must continue with this instant area code relief process. Therefore, we must implement timely area code relief, i.e., add a new area code, when area codes are about to exhaust their supply of NXX codes.

 When faced with the need to implement new area codes, the Commission must decide two very important issues. First, the Commission must decide how to implement the new area code (i.e., a geographic split or an overlay). Second, the Commission must determine when the new area code needs to be implemented.

 State commissions generally have the ability to use four viable options to introduce a new area code in order to resolve area code exhaust. However, the two most common methods of introducing new area codes are the geographic split or an overlay. Both of these options have their advantages and drawbacks. We note that local calling areas do not change no matter which method of area code relief is implemented.

 With a geographic split, the geographic area covered by the existing area code is split into two smaller sections. One of the sections retains the existing area code while the other geographic section receives the new area code, which causes residential customers and businesses in that section to have to change their telephone numbers. Nevertheless, local calling areas do not change and both sections retain the ability to use seven-digit dialing when making calls within each corresponding geographic area. Conversely, telephone calls between the two geographic areas, even if rated as ''local'' calls by the telephone company, cannot be completed without the use of ten-digit dialing.

 The other option is an all-services overlay. An overlay area code ''covers'' the pre-existing area code, most often serving the identical geographic area. This option puts an end to further shrinking of the geographic size of the area code. Additionally, all existing numbers in the overlaid geographic area are able to keep the old area code, and only new telephone lines are assigned the new area code if the old area code has run out of numbers. Consequently, a customer might have two different area codes for telephone lines serving his or her home or place of business. Furthermore, since with an overlay there are multiple area codes for the same geographic area, all calls, including local calls, require ten-digit dialing in order to be completed. In fact, per FCC mandate, states are required to impose ten-digit dialing for all calls, even if those calls are made within the same area code. This purportedly eliminates a dialing disparity between customers in the old area code and those in the new overlay area code.

 The Commission recognizes that both the overlay and geographic split create certain inconveniences, described above, for the citizens and businesses of the State. The Commission notes that the industry reached a consensus to implement an all-services distributed overlay for the geographic area covered by the 814 NPA, which would create a new area code to service the area and require ten-digit dialing to complete all calls. On the whole, however, we believe that a geographic split for the 814 area code creates fewer inconveniences than an overlay. It has always been our preference to implement the form of area code relief that is the least disruptive to residential customers and businesses that reside within the distressed area code. Upon our review of the written comments received and the transcript from the various public input hearings, many disagree with the industry's consensus recommendation to implement an all-services distributed overlay for the geographic area covered by the 814 NPA.

 We agree with the sentiments of the majority of the commenters that a geographic split is a more appropriate and less disruptive means of implementing area code relief in the 814 area code. As noted by some of the comments we received, they believed that a geographic split would certainly cause the least amount of customer confusion if the new area codes maintained some semblance of a geographic ''identity'' to its residents and would also be the least disruptive to them because of the retention of seven-digit dialing in both area codes.

 We note that there are three defined ''communities of interest'' within the 814 area code such as Erie and its surrounding area, Johnstown/Altoona, and State College and its surrounding area. Nevertheless, because of its sheer geographic size and the locations of these diverse communities of interest, we believe the 814 area code lends itself to the imposition of a geographic split.

 As noted above, the 814 area code encompasses a large portion of the state from the borders of Maryland to the borders of the state of New York. We understand that a geographic split's primary disadvantage to customers is that it will change the area code portion of telephone numbers for roughly half of the current telephone subscribers in the 814 area code. All customers in the geographic area receiving the new area code will need to notify their friends, relatives, business associates, and customers of the change. Thus, the persons who call the affected numbers may typically have to call twice and then update their paper and computer records. It may also be necessary to have cellular telephones serviced to accept the new area code.

 The Commission acknowledges that this will create an inconvenience to customers. Also, commercial customers may incur the cost of modifying letterheads, business cards, and advertising or risk having their incoming calls misdirected. Nevertheless, this impact will be mitigated by the extended length of time necessary to transition to the new area code (e.g., stationery and other items containing the old area code will deplete during the transition period and can be replaced by supplies containing the new area code) as discussed.

 Furthermore, most of the geographical region of the 814 area code is rural. We note that most of the businesses in the rural areas within the 814 area code generally serve a limited portion of the area code and consequently only use seven digits on their signage and advertising. Thus, the imposition of an overlay, which means mandatory ten-digit dialing, would prove more costly to these types of businesses.

 When implementing a geographic split as a relief plan the FCC requires that the difference in projected life between the two area codes be no greater than 10 years to avoid the necessity of consumers undergoing another relief plan in a short period of time. Based on the FCC's parameters and the defined ''communities of interest'' within the 814 area code, the proposed split boundary line we are adopting is the one as described in Alternative #2 of Neustar's June 9, 2009 filing with the Commission. See, map attached as Appendix A.

 We will direct Neustar to implement Alternative #2 as the form of area code relief for the 814 area code. The proposed split line runs along rate center boundaries approximately to the east of Jefferson, Elk and McKean Counties. We believe that the location of the boundary split in Alternative #2 does not divide close communities of interest and, thus, believe that the detrimental impact of transitioning to a new area code will be negligible for all. Additionally, the proposed split runs in a north/south direction east of the rate centers Shinglehouse, Wilcox, Kersey, Dubois and Sykesville. Moreover, after a recalculation of the most recent forecast data by Neustar, Area A has a life expectancy of 18 years and Area B has a life expectancy of 22 years.

 Since Area A consists of two of the communities of interest, Johnstown/Altoona and State College and its surrounding areas, it will retain the 814 NPA. Area B, on the map in Appendix A, in which Erie and its surrounding areas reside, will change to the new area code.

 Next, we must determine the implementation timeline for the geographic split of the 814 area code. The FCC has noted that state commissions are uniquely positioned ''to ascertain and weigh the very local and granular information inherent in area code relief decision making.''8 Additionally, FCC regulations at 47 CFR 52.19(a) state that ''state commissions may resolve matters involving the introduction of new area codes within their states, which includes establishing the necessary dates for the implementation of relief plans.''

 The Commission notes that the 814 area code is currently projected to exhaust its remaining supply of NXX codes by the first quarter of 2013, which is approximately 26 months away. As we noted previously, we believe that the implementation of mandatory number pooling throughout all the rate centers within the 814 area code will continue to add to the number of NXX codes available for assignment in this NPA and, thus, prolong its life even further.

 We acknowledge that, while a state commission may not utilize numbering optimization measures in lieu of implementing timely area code relief, it may minimize the consumer impact of traditional area code relief by not implementing new area codes sooner than necessary. Even the FCC has noted that the implementation of new area codes before they are necessary forces consumers to go through the expense, trouble and dislocation of changing telephone numbers or dialing patterns earlier or more often than necessary.9

 In view of the well-documented disruption to customers caused by changes in their area code, it is in the public interest to assure that new area codes are opened only when it is necessary, and only after the existing number resources in the existing area code are close to exhaustion. Therefore, temporarily delaying the proposed implementation schedule of the new area code will not adversely impact consumers.

 We will direct that all network preparation for the implementation of the geographic split of the 814 area code be completed no later than February 1, 2012, at 12:01 a.m (EST). We believe that this timeframe is sufficient for telecommunications carriers and alarm companies to prepare their individual networks and systems in preparation of the new area code.

 When introducing a new area code, there is an adjustment period commonly known as a permissive dialing period. The permissive dialing period will not commence before February 1, 2012, which is the activation date of the new area code. During the permissive dialing period, customers may reach numbers in the new area code that is to be changed by either dialing the 814 NPA code or the new NPA code or using seven digits. Nevertheless, during the permissive period, customers are encouraged to make calls using the correct NPA code. At the end of the permissive period, the mandatory dialing period commences and all calls must be made using the correct NPA code or the customer will reach a recorded announcement stating they must hang up and redial the number using the new area code plus the seven-digit number. This recording will be available for a few months.

 Accordingly, the following timeline is the implementation schedule for the geographic split we are proposing for the 814 area code:

Event Time frame
Network Preparation Period 14 months
Activation of Area Code Split and Permissive Dialing Period
(Calls terminating within the new NPA can be dialed using
either the 814 NPA code or the new NPA code)
6 months
Mandatory dialing period begins at the end of the Permissive
Dialing Period (with recorded announcement)
2 months (after
Permissive Dialing
Total Implementation Interval 22 months

 With the geographic split of the 814 NPA, the dialing plan will be as follows:

Dialing Plan for the New NPA and the 814 NPA

Type of Call Call Terminating in Dialing Plan
Local & Toll Calls Home NPAs (HNPA) 7 digit basis with no prefix (NXXXXXX),
or with a prefix ''1'' and 10 digits (1 +
Local & Toll Calls Foreign NPA (FNPA) 1+10 digits (1+NPA-NXX-XXXX)
Operator Services
Credit card, collect,
third party
HNPA or FNPA 0+10 digits (0+NPA-NXX-XXXX)

 * 1+10 digit dialing for all HNPA and FNPA calls permissible at each service provider's discretion

 Additionally, we direct Neustar to provide us with monthly updates on the projected exhaust date of the 814 NPA so that the Commission can ensure that no NXX code holders in this Commonwealth will be without adequate numbering resources to meet customer demand. This is necessary so that we can determine whether the implementation timeline we have set forth previously adequately ensures that area code relief is timely in this instance or might have to be revised sometime in the near future.


 We encourage the industry and Neustar to continue to work together with the Commission to ensure that new area codes are not unnecessarily opened in the Commonwealth when other viable alternatives are available. Nevertheless, the policy of the Commission is to ensure that numbering resources are made available on an equitable, efficient and timely basis in Pennsylvania; Therefore,

It Is Ordered That:

 1. Neustar, Inc.'s June 9, 2009, petition filed with the Commission on behalf of the Pennsylvania telecommunications industry at the previously listed docket for approval of its relief plan for the 814 area code is hereby granted to the extent consistent with the body of this Order.

 2. The 814 NPA is hereby geographically split into two area codes as set forth in Alternative #2 of Neustar, Inc.'s June 9, 2009, filing with the Commission. See, map attached as Appendix A. Area A will retain the 814 area code and Area B will receive the new area code.

 3. All NXX code holders in Pennsylvania are directed to complete all network preparation to their systems that is necessary to implement the new NPA no later than February 1, 2012.

 4. The permissive dialing period will not commence until February 1, 2012, which is the activation date of the new area code.

 5. From the effective date of this Order, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator shall provide this Commission with monthly updates on the projected exhaust date of the 814 NPA. Time to exhaust in months shall be calculated and based on actual carrier demand for numbers. The monthly updates shall be addressed to Mr. Christopher Hepburn, Bureau of Fixed Utility Services.

 6. A copy of this order shall be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and also posted on the Commission's web site at

 7. A copy of this order shall be served to all NXX code holders in Pennsylvania, the Office of Consumer Advocate, the Office of Small Business Advocate, the Pennsylvania Telephone Association, and Neustar, Inc.


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 11-25. Filed for public inspection December 30, 2010, 9:00 a.m.]


1  The unavailability of NXX codes in an area code for assignment to telecommunications carriers leads to the exhaust of the area code.

2  The NANPA is the entity that allocates numbering resources and monitors the viability of area codes to determine when all of the numbers available in the area code are nearing exhaust.

3  Federal rules that went into effect on July 17, 2000, require all carriers to report to the NANPA their historical and forecast utilization data. 47 CFR 52.15(f). These reports are made semi-annually and are referred to as the ''NRUF Reports.'' Using this data along with the rate of assignment of NXX codes in the NPA, the NANPA predicts the exhaust date for all NPAs in its NPA Exhaust Analysis. These reports can be found at

4  Thousand-block number pooling is the process by which a 10,000 block of numbers is separated into ten sequential blocks of 1,000 numbers and allocated separately to providers within a rate center.

5  The public input hearings were held in the cities of Altoona, Johnstown, State College, Erie and Somerset.

6In the Matter of Numbering Resource Optimization, CC Docket Nos. 99-200, 96-98, NSD File No. L-99-101 (2000).

7Implementation of Additional Delegated Authority Granted to Pennsylvania by the Federal Communications Commission in its Order Released May 18, 2010—Mandatory Thousands-Block Number Pooling in the 215/267, 570, 610/484, 717 and 814 NPAs, M-2010-2178173 (Order entered June 3, 2010).

8In the Matter of Numbering Resource Optimization, Second Report and Order, CC Docket No 99-200, FCC 00-429 (rel. December 29, 2000).

9  Id.

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