PUC orders “number pooling” to delay new area code
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has been granted authority by the Federal Communications Commission to order most of the states’ telecommunications providers to participate in a number pooling program that will extend the life of Idaho’s single “208” area code.
“It has been the longstanding policy of this commission to delay the implementation of another area code as long as possible to avoid the resulting disruption, inconvenience and potential cost to Idaho’s business and residential customers,” said Commission President Paul Kjellander.
NeuStar, the FCC agency that manages telephone area codes in North America, is projecting that Idaho’s area code will run out of telephone numbers in the second quarter of 2010. To delay that exhaust date, the Idaho commission is expanding mandatory “1,000-block number pooling” to include areas of the state beyond Boise. The Treasure Valley area has been ordered to participate in number pooling since 2002.
In areas outside Boise, telephone numbers are assigned to telecommunications companies in 10,000-number blocks. With the proliferation of wireless telephones, new competitive telephone companies, paging and messaging services and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), the demand for new telephone numbers has increased significantly. However, many providers assigned blocks of 10,000 numbers do not use all the numbers assigned them, leaving lots of numbers “stranded”, but not in use. In its petition to the FCC seeking mandatory number pooling, the Idaho commission reported that only 42.2 percent of the numbers assigned to Idaho providers are in use.
This is the second time Idaho has been able to delay another area code. In August of 2001, the FCC projected Idaho’s area code would exhaust in the fall of 2003. In 2002, the commission ordered Boise area telecommunications providers to return numbers not in use and then receive new numbers only in 1,000-number blocks as needed. Today’s order expands number pooling to include the entire state. Not required to participate are rural providers that do not have local number portability or rural companies that do not have a competitive landline or wireless provider. Pagers, because they do not have local number portability, are also not mandated to participate. However, the commission is strongly encouraging paging companies to participate on a voluntary basis.
All telecommunications providers that fall under the mandatory requirements must evaluate their numbering resources and donate all unused 1,000-number blocks and all 1,000-number blocks that have less than 10 percent of their numbers assigned to the NeuStar numbering pool. Those numbers can then be assigned back to Idaho providers as they demonstrate a need.
A full text of the commission’s order, along with other documents related to this case, are available on the commission’s Web site at www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on “File Room” and then on “Telecommunications Cases” and scroll down to Case No. GNR-T-07-04.
Interested parties may petition the commission for reconsideration by no later than Oct. 4. Petitions for reconsideration must set forth specifically why the petitioner contends that the order is unreasonable, unlawful or erroneous. Petitions should include a statement of the nature and quantity of evidence the petitioner will offer if reconsideration is granted.
Petitions can be delivered to the commission at 472 W. Washington St. in Boise, mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID, 83720-0074, or faxed to 208-334-3762.