PSC Holds Off on Requiring New Code in the 315 Area Code Region

The New York State Public Service Commission today announced today it is putting on hold plans to create a new area code within the existing 315 area, which serves Syracuse, Utica, and large areas of the north central part of New York State.  The Commission Press Release indicates that a revised number exhaust date allows postponement of the change.  COMMISSION PUTS 315 AREA CODE CHANGES ON HOLD, — Revised Forecast Results in New Area Code Exhaust Date, November 14, 2013.  An order is expected to be issued later with a fuller explanation of the decision.

The revised number exhaust date was issued by Neustar, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, (NANPA).  A spinoff of Lockheed Martin,

Neustar administrates the North American Numbering Plan, the authoritative directories that manage virtually all telephone area codes and numbers, and enables the routing of calls among thousands of competing Communications Service Providers (CSPs). All telecommunications service providers (TSPs) that offer telecommunications services to the public at large must access the Neustar clearinghouse to properly route virtually all of their customers’ calls. Also, Neustar provides clearinghouse services to emerging CSPs, including Internet service providers (ISPs), mobile network operators, cable television operators, and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service providers.

The company created and operates the Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC), which enables US and Canadian consumers to keep their phone number when they switch carriers. Each time a consumer attempts to transfer their number from one phone company to another, Neustar is involved.  In this role, “Neustar manages changes to telephone number routing information when subscribers change service from one local telephone service provider to another and keep their existing telephone number — whether the service is wireline, wireless, voice over IP (VoIP) or cable.”

The Utility Project urged the PSC to adopt more aggressive number conservation measures to recover excess numbers stranded in rural areas to obviate the need for a new area code in the 315 region.  With Millions of Phone Numbers Still Unused in 315 Area Code Region, Utility Project Urges PSC Not to Add New Area Code Now, August 8, 2013.

Recent technological advances might make it possible to free up many numbers that are now seemingly tied up in rural areas of the 315 region within only lightly used NXX blocks of 10,000 numbers. For example, someday it may be possible to move a nearly empty and largely redundant NXX exchange from a rural area to an area where it is needed, and then forward or port the few numbers now used back to the rural area without requiring even those few customers to change their numbers.

The Commission previously decided to use a new three-digit overlay code for adding new phone numbers, and would require 10-digit dialing with either the existing 315 prefix or the new one. Today’s decision will at least delay the cost and inconvenience of adding a new overlay code, and should give more time to explore more aggressive number conservation and potential reclamation measures.

Gerald A. Norlander

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