HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today reminded residents in 16 counties across Central Pennsylvania of two upcoming “Smart Hearings” to gather public comment on the future of the 717 area code service area – which is currently predicted to exhaust the supply of available telephone numbers in mid-2018.
The Commission is gathering comments on the relief alternatives that have been submitted, including a new “overlay” area code throughout the existing 717 service area or a geographic “split” of the current 717 area code. The PUC also is open to suggestions regarding any other potential alternatives and is seeking input on the implementation schedule for any proposed area code relief plan.
717 Area Code Smart Hearings
Tuesday, August 9, 2016 – 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Commonwealth Keystone Building
Hearing Room 1
400 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120
The PUC’s Smart Hearings will be broadcast live on the PUC website and will enable residents throughout the 717 area code geographic region – which covers all or part of 16 counties in Central Pennsylvania – to see and hear the testimony being offered without the need to attend the hearings in person.
Witnesses will be able to offer their comments by telephone, from the convenience of their homes or other locations, to be included in the live Internet stream and considered as part of the Commission’s review. In-person testimony at the Harrisburg hearing site also will be included, for those who prefer to comment in that manner. You have the option of not having your testimony live-streamed, if you prefer.
Individuals wishing to testify at the hearings by telephone must contact the PUC’s Office of Administrative Law Judge (OALJ) at 717-787-1399 and provide contact information no later than Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016. Attendance in person requires no prior action, simply show up and sign in.
If you have special needs, the OALJ may be able to accommodate. Please call at least five business days prior to the hearing to submit your request for any accommodations and at least ten days in advance if you are requesting an interpreter. AT&T Relay Service is available for those who are hearing-impaired by calling 1-800-654-5988.
717 Area Code Exhaustion
In March 2016 the Commission voted to seek comments on a petition filed by Neustar Inc., the North American Numbering Plan Administrator. Neustar, acting on behalf of the Pennsylvania telecommunications industry, is requesting approval of its plan to alleviate numbering exhaust for the 717 Numbering Plan Area. The area is currently predicted to exhaust the supply of telephone numbers in 2018.
The industry’s recommended solution is to “overlay” a new area code throughout the existing 717 area code, which would require all customers to dial 10 digits for every call. An alternative would be to geographically “split” the current 717 area code, which would require approximately half of the region’s residents and businesses to receive a new area code.
The Commission is seeking comments on the relief alternatives that have been submitted, and also is open to suggestions regarding any other potential alternatives for providing relief to the 717 area code. Additionally, the Commission also is seeking comments on the implementation schedule for any proposed area code relief plan.
Offering Comment at a Hearing
Members of the public are welcome to attend the hearings and provide comments. Their testimony will become part of the record on which the PUC will issue its final decision.
The PUC and Office of Consumer Advocate offer tips on how to participate, including:
Prepare what you are going to say beforehand. Even though it is not required, you may want to write out your statement, which can be read.
Bring copies, if you are attending an in-person hearing. If you have a written statement you would like to give to the judge as evidence, please bring two copies for the court reporter and several copies for the other participants.
Plan to be questioned. Parties in the case may want to ask you a question to clarify something you said.
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.
For recent news releases and video of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.pa.gov. Follow the PUC on Twitter – @PA_PUC for all things utility. “Like” Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Facebook for easy access to information on utility issues.
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Docket No.: P-2015-2510230