Amid Public Outcry PUC Decides to Review 814 Area Code Case

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today voted to further review the decision to grant relief for the 814 area code and plans to hold additional public hearings and technical conferences to gather more information in the case.

The Commission voted 5-0 to grant the more than 40 petitions for reconsideration filed with the Commission pending review of the merits of the petitions. The Commission also voted 5-0 to approve a joint motionby Vice Chairman Tyrone J. Christy and Commissioner John F. Coleman Jr. to re-open the record in the case to gather more information through technical conferences and additional public input hearings.  The dates and times of the public input hearings and conferences will be scheduled at a later date.

“We are providing an opportunity to be heard so that all stakeholders fully understand the area code relief options available in the 814 NPA,” said Vice Chairman Christy. “We need the most current and accurate data to further review and make a final decision on the issues before us.”

After reviewing the merits of the petitions for reconsideration, the Commission may rescind, modify or affirm the original Dec. 16, 2010 decision to split the 814 area code along rate center boundaries.  There is no statutory deadline for the Commission to make a decision.  Petitions for reconsideration were to be filed with the Commission by Monday, Jan. 3, 2011.

The Commission will schedule technical conferences to permit additional evidence to be submitted concerning the issues surrounding the need for area code relief, including the economic impact of both the geographic split and overlay options presented in the related North American Numbering Plan Administrator’s June 2009 Petition, as well as the issue of possible technological impediments relating to the two alternative area code relief options.

Additional public input hearings also will be held throughout the 814 area code, as appropriate, upon the conclusion of the technical conferences. The Commissioners also will receive monthly updates concerning the projected exhaust date for the 814 area code.

The PUC held a comment period, followed by public input hearings throughout the 814 area code in 2010, in response to the June 2009 North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) petition for area code relief.

On Dec. 16, 2010, the Commission said the geographic split was more practical for the 814 area code because of the geographic size of the 814 area code and the location of population centers.  With the geographic split, consumers may continue to dial seven digits for local calling. The other option available to the Commission – an overlay – would have covered the entire 814 area code with a new area code and required 10-digit dialing throughout a large geographic area in Pennsylvania.

NANPA has assigned 582 as the new area code for portions of the current 814 area code west of Jefferson, Elk and McKean counties. The boundary runs in a north/south direction east Shinglehouse, Wilcox, Kersey, Dubois and Sykesville rate centers. Maps showing the county split and the rate center split are available on the Commission’s website. The new area code is scheduled to be implemented Feb. 1, 2012.

The 814 area code was originally projected to run out of telephone numbers in the first quarter of 2013. New area codes are needed when existing area codes exhaust their supply of “NXX” codes (which is the second set of three digits in a 10-digit telephone number, NPA-NXX-XXXX). Of the original four Pennsylvania area codes, the 814 area code was the only one to remain unchanged. With the split, Pennsylvania now will have 12 area codes – 412/724/878, 570/272, 814, 582, 717, 610/484 and 215/267.

When introducing a new area code, a permissive dialing period of about six months is allowed while customers adjust to the change.  During this time, customers may reach numbers in the new area code by either dialing 814 or the new area code. Even with permissive dialing, customers are encouraged to use the correct dialing. Once the permissive dialing period has ended, customers will receive a recorded message telling them to hang up and redial the numbers using the new area code.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities to ensure safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protect the public interest; educate consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; further economic development; and foster new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.

For recent news releases, audio of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.state.pa.us.


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