When the USPS wanted to change zip codes, Westlake Revelations investigated and found no publicly stated valid reason for change, and brought that to the attention of government officials. (For more info about the USPS position change, see https://westlakerevelations.com/?q=node/102)
Area codes, however, are entirely another matter. We’re not running out of phone numbers per se, but we are running out of “whole prefixes” which is how phone numbers are allocated to providers. In other words, it’s becoming very difficult to get new numbers.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) had two choices: split the area code into two areas (one keeping the old, the other keeping the new) as happened when 818 was created … or create an overlay. With some history behind it, the evidence is clear that an overlay is less costly to implement for people.
As a result, this afternoon, the PUC voted unanimously for an “area code overlay” — second area code to the same geographic region. The good news is that if you have an existing 818 number, your number will not change. If you want a new number, however, starting next year, it’s likely to be in the new 747 area code.
More importantly, everyone in 818 will need to dial 1+ the area code and the telephone number for all calls. This applies even when you are dialing your next door neighbor. While not yet required, you can start to dial this way today if you’d like. In fact, many people living in this area are already doing this especially if they work/live in both 818/805 area codes.
Toll charges will continue to be based geographically, and not by area code. In other words, if your next door neighbor gets a new number with 747, it won’t be a toll call. But, if your friend in Burbank does … that will continue to be a toll call.
The following information and common questions are taken directly from the CPUC web site at: (http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/Telco/Reports/Area+Codes/818+Area+Code/)
Common Questions and Answers 818 Area Code
1. Why is another area code needed?
* Whole prefixes are running out in the existing 818 area code. Once an area code no longer has any whole prefixes, it is considered to be at exhaust. The available telephone numbers in the 818 are limited and cannot support the demand for telephone numbers in the long-term.
2. What will the new area code be?
* The new area code will be the 747 area code.
3. What is an area code split?
* Traditionally, area codes have been split to provide more prefixes for the telecommunications industry and its customers, thus creating smaller geographic areas. Area code splits create new area codes by splitting a geographical region in multiple ways.
* Only one area code is assigned to a particular geographical region. Some people will be able to retain the 818 area code while others will have to change their area code to the 747 area code.
4. What is an area code overlay?
* An area code overlay is a form of area code change that typically adds a second area code to the same geographic region. Therefore, multiple area codes can co-exist within the same geographic region. People with telephone numbers within the exhausting area code will retain their current telephone number(s) and the 818 area code. Individuals that would like to have new or additional telephone numbers or telecommunications services may be given telephone numbers with the new 747 area code.
5. How about giving cellular phones, faxes, ATM machines, and other non-geographical devices or services the new area code instead?
* This form of area code change is referred to as a technology-specific overlay (TSO).
* On three occasions, the CPUC has requested the FCC for authority to implement a form of a technology-specific overlay. In the first two instances, the CPUC requested that phone numbers from wireless services get a separate area code. However, the FCC has not acted on these CPUC requests.
* In September 2005, in response to the CPUC’s third request for authority to implement a TSO, the FCC partially granted the CPUC’s request. However, the FCC did not grant the CPUC authority to permanently maintain seven-digit dialing in the geographic region(s) where the TSO would be implemented. Moreover, the phone numbers associated with wireless services were excluded from the list of those phone numbers that would get a separate area code. The FCC’s partial granting of the CPUC’s request did not include enough of the elements of the CPUC’s proposal. As a result, the benefits of implementing the TSO the FCC authorized, did not outweigh the costs of doing so.
6. Will I be affected by the area code change?
* If you have a telephone number within the 818 area code, you will be affected by an area code change regardless of the area code change option implemented.
* If an area code split is implemented then some individuals will have to change their area code to the new 747 code. This depends on the rate center associated with the telephone number [please see the prefix/rate center list found in the index].
* If an area code overlay is implemented then individuals will be able to retain their current telephone number and area code, but will need to dial 1+ the area code and the telephone number for all calls.
7. Who will get the new 747 area code in a change?
* The CPUC does not decide in advance which region will receive the new area code if an area code split is implemented, and it weighs various factors in rendering such a decision.
* Those consumers who order new telephone numbers or services will most likely receive the new area code if the CPUC implements an area code overlay.
8. How will customer directory listings be impacted?
* The telecommunications industry, will be updating the directory listings in the white pages for all affected communities to identify the associated area code of a telephone number. Individual customers are responsible for any changes to listings appearing in other directories. Each customer is responsible for telephone numbers appearing in any display advertising.
9. When will telephone numbers with the 747 area code be available?
* Telephone numbers with the 747 area code will be available after the implementation of the area code change is completed.
10. Will the area code change be implemented immediately?
* No. Typically the area code relief process takes at least one year before the new area code is ready for implementation.
11. Will the way I dial my calls i.e., dialing procedure, change?
* No, if an area code split is implemented.
* Yes, if an area code overlay is implemented. Individuals must dial 1 + the area code and the telephone number for all calls. Even if you are calling your next door neighbor or within a house, you must dial 1 + the area code and the telephone number.
12. Why do I have to dial 1 + the area code and then the telephone number?
* The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires dialing the area code + telephone number for all calls where an area code overlay exists. The FCC believes that this would maximize numbering resource optimization, minimize anti-competitive effects due to dialing disparities, and avoid customer confusion.
* In California, the telecommunications industry has adopted use of “1” before the area code for the dialing of all inter NPA (Area Code) calls. Therefore, when the new 747 area code is implemented, Californians must dial “1” for both inter- and intra- NPA calls.
13. Will there be a change in how I dial emergency calls to 9-1-1?
* No. individuals can still just dial only three digits to reach 9-1-1. No additional digits will be required to make emergency calls.
14. Will there be a change in how I dial other N-1-1 phone numbers?
* No. Individuals can still just dial only three digits to call N-1-1 phone numbers such as 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, and 711.
15. What can individuals do to prepare, if the CPUC decides to implement an area code split?
* Reprogram equipment or features i.e., automatic dial, speed-dial, call forwarding, modems for computer or Internet dial-up access, etc., to dial the 747 area code (if you received the new code).
* Update items like stationery, checks, etc., to include the 747 area code (if you received the new code).
* Teach families, friends, etc., to dial the 747 area code (if you received the new code).
* When asking for someone else’s number, remember to ask for the area code too.
* Check with your service provider if manual or over-the-air reprogramming of your cell phone is needed to account for the new 747 area code (if you received the new code).
16. What can individuals do to prepare, if the CPUC decides to implement an area code overlay?
* Contact security or alarm vendors, to update dial-up numbers to avoid a break in security routines and contacts.
* Reprogram equipment or features i.e., automatic dial, speed-dial, call forwarding, modems for computer or Internet dial-up access etc., programmed to dial seven digits to dial “1” + area code + telephone number.
* Update items like stationery, checks, etc., to include your area code + Telephone number.
* Start thinking of dialing 1 + the area code + telephone number for all calls.
* Teach families, friends etc., to dial 1 + the area code + telephone number for all calls.
* Provide your area code + telephone number, not just the telephone number, as needed.
* When asking for someone else’s number, remember to ask for the area code too.
* Remember that the 818 area code and the 747 area code will co-exist within the same geographic region.
17. (number skipped)
18. What can businesses do to prepare, if the CPUC decides to implement an area code overlay?
* Notify alarm service providers of the appropriate area code + telephone number(s) so alarm service records and equipment can be updated as needed.
* Ensure security door and gate systems are reprogrammed to dial “1” + area code + telephone number.
* Reprogram any call-forwarding, automatic-dial or speed-dial features to dial “1” + area code + telephone number.
* Test telephone equipment to determine if it can dial and receive “1” + area code + telephone number. Questions regarding changes in telephone equipment should be directed to telephone equipment vendors.
* Update items like stationery, checks, business cards, advertisements, promotional items, brochures, internet web pages, catalogs etc., to include your area code + telephone number.
* Teach employees, coworkers, customers etc., to dial the area code + telephone number for all calls.
* Provide your area code + telephone number, not just the telephone number.
19. Who is responsible for costs incurred to update customer phone equipment, advertising materials, etc., if necessary.
* Individual consumers are responsible for these costs.
20. Will the cost of a call differ because of the area code change?
21. Will calls between a telephone number with the 747 area code and a telephone number with the 818 area code be considered a long distance call?
* Calls that were local before the area code change will remain local calls. The distance, time of day, and length of a call determine the price of a call.
22. If I dial a “0” before the area code + telephone number, will there be special charges for that call?
* It is possible for there to be special charges if an individual dials a “0” before the area code + telephone number. There may be special operator-assisted rates or credit card rates for this type of a call. It depends on your telecommunications service provider. Check with your service provider for additional information.
818 AREA CODE INFORMATION
History and Contours of the Code
* The 818 area code was created in 1984 when it was geographically split from the 213 area code; it was split again in 1997 with the creation of the 626 area code.
* It covers the greater San Fernando Valley area in Southern California.
* This area code contains 16 rate centers.
* In 1999, the CPUC approved a geographic split as a back-up relief plan to numbering conservation efforts [Commission Decision 99-10-022], with 747 as the new area code assigned to provide area code relief.
* Number pooling was implemented in the 818 area code on 3/24/01, in order to boost the efficiency of phone number allocation and delay the addition of the 747 area code.
* Number pooling allows telecommunication providers to receive numbers in smaller blocks than the traditional 10,000 numbers, thus enabling multiple providers to share a prefix in the same rate center, thereby utilizing limited resources more efficiently. As a result of number pooling, 229 codes (NXXs) have been saved.
* The 818 area code is approximately the same size as the 310 and 714 area codes in terms of the number of rate centers it contains (Neustar – 5/3/07).
* It should be noted that the split alternative previously approved by the CPUC in 1999 was controversial, and resulted in litigation being initiated before the CPUC. Matters of contention included, but were not limited to, where the split line should be drawn and which side of the split line should receive the new area code.
* The previous split decision provided that customers in the northeast region would retain the 818 area code, while the customers in the southwest region would receive the new 747 area code.
* Because of effective numbering conservation efforts, the CPUC has been able to extend the life of the 818 area code through 2009.
Current State of the Code
* Area code exhaust is not driven by the number of telephone numbers available — but by the number of Central Office Codes (Prefixes) that are available. This occurs because telephone numbers are assigned to rate centers as whole prefixes. These prefixes are composed of 10 thousand-number blocks. Once a prefix has been opened in a rate center, none of these thousand-number blocks can be moved to another rate center — even if the rate center “next door” only needs fifty numbers. When this situation arises, the Pooling Administrator “opens” a whole prefix for those fifty customers — and subsequently reduces the pool of all available codes/prefixes and constrains the other 9,950 numbers to that rate center.
* As of 9/14/07, there are 61 whole codes (Prefixes) remaining for the 16 rate centers in the 818 Area Code’s geographic area (Neustar — 9/14/07). These 61 prefixes are all that remain of the original 782 prefixes. NANPA currently utilizes a two code per month consumption model in its forecast of exhaust. However, if consumption increases or a new service provider seeks to establish a footprint in the 818 geographic area, this forecast exhaust date will be significantly shortened.
* As of 9/14/07, there were 246 thousand-number blocks available in Pooling (www.nationalpooling.com). By virtue of the fact that blocks are the constituent elements of prefixes, and the smallest unit of numbers that can be assigned to carriers – 246 blocks (across 16 rate centers) provides very little cushion before the next prefix will need to be opened. Also, blocks are restrained like prefixes to one rate center, and can never be moved between rate centers, no matter how acute the need is in a neighboring area.
* Currently there are 3,066,281 numbers available to consumers (See below). It should be noted, however, that 1) carriers are unable to share telephone numbers with each other; 2) telephone numbers can only be assigned to rate centers at the prefix level [10 one thousandnumber blocks]; and 3) these blocks cannot be shared or moved between rate centers.
* The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers a technology-specific overlay (TSO) to be a transitional measure. The FCC will only authorize it for one year, after which the new area code must be opened up to other uses. Thus, a TSO is only a temporary fix, and a complicated, burdensome one at that.
* Take wireless numbers, for example. New wireless numbers could go into the TSO, but already-assigned wireless numbers could not be required to go into the TSO. Therefore, the vast majority of wireless numbers would remain in the existing 818 area code and could not be migrated into the new TSO.
* Also, due to the FCC’s rules on “number portability,” which allow consumers to port their home wireline numbers to wireless providers, it is no longer practical, and would be a public relations nightmare, to require wireless numbers to be assigned to a separate area code.
* In theory, a TSO could include numbers assigned to ATMs, computer modems or point-ofsale devices in grocery stores. But that idea is virtually impossible to implement. The phone companies have no way of determining what type of equipment is at the other end of a phone line, and therefore cannot force customers to migrate equipment to a TSO area code. Further, there are not enough numbers in this category to justify opening a TSO area code.
* The CPUC has petitioned the FCC for the authority to implement a TSO on three different occasions. The FCC denied the first two petitions, and only partially approved the third and most recent one in 2005. In the partial approval, the FCC did not give the CPUC the authority to permanently maintain seven-digit dialing. Additionally, the FCC excluded wireless services from the list of telephone numbers that would be given the new area code during implementation. As a result, the CPUC determined that implementation of this partial TSO was not a viable or cost effective option for ratepayers.
* In short, due to the FCC’s rules, it is highly improbable that the FCC would approve a TSO that would bring meaningful relief to the 818 area code.
Future of the Code
* The 818 area code is forecasted to exhaust in the 3rd Qtr 2009, based upon a forecasted usage of two prefixes per month (Neustar — 4/26/07).
* Because Public Utilities Code §7931 requires that area code relief efforts begin at least 30 months in advance of the opening of a new area code, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) contacted the CPUC’s Communications Division in April of 2007 to notify it of the impending exhaust date in 3rd Quarter 2009.
* Based upon the length of time that has passed since the CPUC’s 1999 decision to split the 818 area code, the Communications Division has asked NANPA to again conduct industry meetings and public hearings regarding relief alternatives available.
* The updated industry meeting was held on June 14, 2007. The telecommunications industry has recommended an overlay in contrast to the previous split decision.
Public Informational Meetings
* Meetings with local elected officials and members of the public in the 818 geographic area are currently scheduled for October 22, 23, and 24, 2007. Please see the attached notice. If there are further questions, please call the Public Advisor’s Office toll free at (866) 849-8391 or (213) 576-7055. The Area Code Hotline (866) 340-6147 is also available to answer questions. Legislative offices may call the Office of Governmental Affairs directly at (916) 327-3277.