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News Release
Commission Seeks FCC Area Code Authority
March 2, 2000 (2000-012)
Contacts: Ron Eachus, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Roger Hamilton, Commissioner 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR - The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) is seeking additional authority from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement number conservation measures to extend the life of the 541 area code that currently serves Southwest and Eastern Oregon.
The North American Number Planning Administrator (NANPA) has warned Oregon’s 541 area code may be out of numbers as soon as mid 2002. It was previously estimated the code would last for 15 years before the numbers were exhausted in 2010.
Since the 541 area code was created in 1995, 191 new telephone prefixes have been placed into service. This includes numbers for cell phones, pagers, new communications companies, as well as normal growth of the traditional telephone network.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has exclusive jurisdiction over area code administration that pertain to the United States. However, the Commission may delegate portions of its number administration authority to state commissions.
"The FCC is crafting national remedies on this front. However, we want to ensure Oregon is prepared to move ahead in the event the FCC process takes too long," said PUC Commission Chairman Ron Eachus.
The FCC has granted similar authority to commissions in 10 other states.
One number management practice includes implementing mandatory thousand number block-pooling trials. The Commission could require companies to "turn on" numbers sequentially in 1,000 number blocks instead of blocks of 10,000. The application to the FCC noted "allocating numbers in blocks of 10,000 has resulted in wasted resources." This remedy and others are aimed at relieving pressure for a new area code in the 541 area code and in the coastal 503 area code. Another measure would allow the PUC to conduct random audits to ensure numbers are allocated efficiently.
Customers currently assigned numbers in the 541 area code would not be affected by the proposed conservation measures. The measures would be directed to unassigned prefixes.
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