HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today approved an implementation plan that will establish a new “overlay” area code for the 717 Number Planning Area (NPA), which covers all or part of 16 counties in Central Pennsylvania.
The Commission voted 5-0 in favor of a Petition for Approval of an area code relief plan, submitted by Neustar Inc., the neutral third party North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) for Pennsylvania. Today’s action by the PUC follows extensive public input – including online Smart Hearings and a public comment period, which drew input from residents and businesses throughout the region.
“Throughout this process, residents and businesses from across the region offered a strong and clear message – they want to keep their existing telephone numbers,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “The proposal approved by the Commission today addresses those concerns, avoiding the potential confusion and expense of a widespread telephone number switch, while also ensuring that a supply of new numbers will be available for decades to come.”
Under the overlay plan, a new area code will be assigned for the same geographic area currently covered by the 717 area code. That new area code will be assigned by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator. Customers currently using 717 telephone numbers will keep their existing telephone numbers, and – at some point in the future – when no more 717 telephone numbers are available, telephone numbers from the new area code will begin to be assigned to customers. Based on current forecast predictions, the supply of phone numbers available in the 717 area code is projected to exhaust by the third quarter of 2017.
The overlay area code relief option was supported by the majority of individuals who submitted written comments or testified at the PUC’s Smart Hearings, along with the telecommunications industry. This option is projected by to provide telephone numbers to the region for approximately 67 years.
When the new area code is placed into service, customers in the entire region will be required to dial 10-digit telephone numbers (the area code plus the seven-digit number), regardless of whether they are calling a 717 number or a number in the new area code. According to the area code relief plan, the overlay area code will be implemented over a nine-month period, with a transition to 10-digit dialing being introduced sometime during this implementation period.
Per today’s Commission Order, the telecommunications industry must complete all of the necessary network preparations for the new overlay by Mar. 1, 2017. Additionally, the PUC will receive monthly updates on the projected exhaust date for the 717 area code. Outreach to customers about the transition to 10-digit dialing will begin when the remaining supply of available 717 numbers reaches three months.
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Docket No.: P-2015-2510230