HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission today approved an all service distributed overlay as the form of area code relief in the 570 area code.
The Commission voted 5-0 to approve the overlay plan, in an effort to implement the form of area code relief that is the least disruptive. An overlay plan means that once the existing telephone numbers in the 570 area code are exhausted, new telephone services in that geographic region would be assigned telephone numbers out of the new area code. Ten-digit local dialing would then apply to all telephone calls. The Commission held a comment period, followed by public input hearings.
Many of those who participated agreed with the industry’s consensus recommendation to implement an all-services distributed overlay for the geographic area covered by the 570 NPA. Because two area codes reside in the same geography, the Federal Communications Commission requires that all calls must be dialed using the area code + the seven-digit telephone number (10 digits).
Because the area code is expected to exhaust in the third quarter of 2011, the Commission is directing that all NXX code holders in Pennsylvania complete network preparation of their systems for the implementation of the overlay no later than March 1, 2011.
However, if the Commission’s number conservation measures prove to be effective, it is possible that the activation of the overlay could be delayed indefinitely.
When introducing a new area code, a permissive dialing period is allowed while customers adjust to the change. The permissive dialing period will commence approximately three months before the new area code becomes effective. During the permissive dialing period, customers may reach numbers in the area that is to be overlaid by either dialing 10 or seven digits. At that time companies will start customer education programs for the new area code, including the fact that when the new overlay area code is finally activated the FCC requires that all calls be made dialing 10 digits, dialing the area code and the seven-digit number.
At the end of the permissive period, the mandatory dialing period commences and all calls must be made using the area code plus the seven-digit number. If only the seven-digit number is dialed at this time, the customer will reach a recorded announcement stating they must hang up and redial the number using the area code plus the seven-digit number. This recording will be available permanently.
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.
Docket Number P-2009-2117193