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News Release
Northern Coast Running out of 503 Area Code Telephone Numbers
November 17, 2006  (2006 - 022)
Contacts:  Lee Beyer, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Ray Baum, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Affairs Specialist, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR – The Oregon Public Utility Commission is scheduled to consider a proposal to implement a ten-digit dialing plan for the northern Oregon coast at its November 21, 2006, 9:30 a.m. meeting in the main hearing room in Salem.
The North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) currently projects that 14 northern coastal telephone exchanges will run out of new telephone numbers in the 503 Area Code within 2 years.  After that time there will not be any remaining telephone numbers to issue to customers in the 503 Area Code. Under the industry proposal new numbers will instead have a 971 prefix, as is the currently the case for the rest of the 503 area code.
If approved by the Commission, the industry will need six months beginning in May of 2007 to begin network preparation and implement customer education. The Commission will assist in this effort with Open Houses to distribute educational materials along with the phone companies. Beginning in October of 2007 customers will be in a permissive time period in which both seven-digit and ten-digit calls will be connected.  Effective April 27, 2008 only ten-digit dialed calls will go through.
Currently, customers in these northern coastal exchanges can make local calls by dialing either seven digits or by dialing ten digits.  A number of businesses have been using 10-digit dialing for some time and have modified their business documents such as business cards and stationery.
Historically, when the Commission overlayed the 503 Area Code with 971 prefixes in 1999, it allowed 14 telephone exchanges along Oregon’s northern coast to continue under the 503 Area Code, and reserved the remaining Area Code 503 numbers for those exchanges.
The 14 coastal exchanges excluded from the 503/971 area code overlay in 1999 are: Qwest Corporation’s Astoria, Cannon Beach, Seaside, and Warrenton exchanges; United Telephone Company of the Northwest/Embarq’s Bay City, Beaver, Cloverdale, Garibaldi, Pacific City, Rockaway and Tillamook exchanges; CenturyTel’s Jewell  and Knappa exchanges; and Nehalem Telecommunications, Inc.’s Nehalem exchange.  
NANPA, the industry, and Commission staff are proposing extending the 971 overlay over these 14 exchanges. The change would mean that any telephone customer requiring a new telephone number in the old Area Code 503 would receive a 971 number and would have to dial 10-digits for local calls. They say this is the only practical plan to correct the problem with the projected shortage of remaining telephone numbers in Area Code 503. Customers with 503 area code telephone numbers would also have to dial Ten-digits for local calls under the proposed plan.