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News Release
PUC Seeks to Delay Ten-Digit Dialing In 541 Area Code
July 10, 2000 (2000-035)
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 has received approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to move ahead with measures to extend the life of the 541 area code that currently serves Southeast and Eastern Oregon.
While the number conservation measures should ease the pressure to use up numbers within the 541 area code, they will not delay the scheduled October 1, 2000 overlay for most of the 503 area code, when ten-digit dialing will be required and new numbers will receive a 971 area code.
Commissioner Joan Smith said, "We are very pleased that the FCC acted so quickly to grant our request. We will now be able to direct how numbers are used and reduce disruption to customers."
The North American Number Planning Administration (NANPA) has warned Oregon's 541 area code may be out of numbers as soon as mid 2002. Created in 1995, the 541 area code was supposed to last until 2010. But demand for cell phones, pagers and Internet access lines is eating numbers at a rapid pace.
Commission staff will begin the process of collecting data from telecommunications companies and come up with a plan to raise standards aimed at conserving numbers. The number conservation measures will include allocating numbers in blocks of 1000. Historically numbers have been allocated in blocks of 10,000. However, that has resulted in wasted resources as many of the allocated numbers go unused.
The Commission will require cellular providers to show their actual demand for new numbers, rather than their projected need before they are given new ones.
The Commission hopes to have the new number conservation measures in place by early next year, when the required software becomes available.
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