Press Releases

Commission Seeks Comments on 717 Area Code Relief Plan

March 10, 2016

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today voted to defer an implementation plan that would result in a new area code in the 717 service area, pending receipt of comments.

The Commission voted 5-0 to hold in abeyance and seek comments on the petition filed by Neustar Inc. (Neustar), the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA). Neustar, acting on behalf of the Pennsylvania telecommunications industry, filed a petition on Oct. 23, 2015, requesting approval of its plan to alleviate numbering exhaust for the 717 Numbering Plan Area (NPA or area code) upon its predicted exhaustion in 2018 through the use of a distributed overlay.

“Because we need input from consumers, the industry and other interested parties involved regarding this decision, we direct that the consensus relief plan for the 717 NPA shall not be implemented at this time,” the Commission Order states.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandates that states must implement area code relief when existing area codes are predicted to exhaust their supply of NXX codes or telephone numbers. NXX codes are the second set of three digits in a 10-digit telephone number, i.e., NPA-NXX-XXXX. The supply of NXX codes in the 717 NPA is set to run out in the third quarter of 2018.

FCC regulations allow new area codes to be introduced in any of three ways:

  1. A geographic area code split, which occurs when the geographic area served by an area code is split into two or more geographical parts; 

  2. An area code boundary realignment, which occurs when the boundary lines between two adjacent area codes are shifted to allow the transfer of some numbers from one area code to the other; or 

  3. An area code overlay, which occurs when a new area code is introduced to serve the same geographic area as an existing area code. 

The NANPA proposed two relief alternatives: an all services distributed overlay, meaning a new NPA code would be assigned to the same geographic area as the existing 717 NPA; or a two-way geographic split, meaning the exhausting NPA would be split into two geographic areas, with a new NPA assigned to one of the areas formed by the split. The industry reached consensus to recommend an overlay.

The Commission is seeking comments on the two relief alternatives submitted by the NANPA and is open to suggestions regarding any other potential alternatives for providing relief to the 717 NPA. The Commission also is seeking comments on the implementation schedule of the proposed area code relief plans. The PUC’s Office of Administrative Law Judge will establish dates, times and locations for public input hearings to collect oral testimony related to the form of relief.

Interested parties who wish to provide written comments have 45 days from the publication of the Order in the Pennsylvania Bulletin to submit comments to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Attn: Secretary, P.O. Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.

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Docket No. P-2015-2510230

Contact:Deputy Press Secretary

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
Press Office
P.O. Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265
(717) 787-5722 FAX (717) 787-4193

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