In May 2014, the New York State Public Service Commission (Commission) instituted a proceeding (14-C-0182) to investigate and evaluate options for making additional telephone numbers available in the 631 area code which serves Suffolk County, Long Island.
The proceeding commenced when the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA), Neustar, the entity designated by the Federal Communications Commission to administer area codes throughout the United States, determined that the 631 area code could run out of assignable telephone numbers by the first quarter of 2016 and filed a petition with the Commission on behalf of the telephone industry. Commission action is necessary to ensure the continued availability of telephone numbers in the area currently served by the 631 area code. The Commission's goal is to develop a plan that provides long-term area code relief while minimizing disruption to consumers and businesses in the area.
For areas where the assignable numbers will be exhausted, new area codes in a geographic area are generally provided in two ways: through an “overlay” or through a “geographic split”.
Based on a review of comments filed in the case, DPS Staff has advised the Commission that an overlay option is the preferred alternative. DPS Staff also recognized that the selected area code relief option will affect the habits and practices of several hundred thousand telephone users in Suffolk County as well as those calling into the County, and that further solicitation of public input could be useful. As a result, the Commission will consider further comment received in making its final decision at a future time. Comments are requested by November 7, 2014, but will be considered until a decision is made in the proceeding.
In the overlay option, a new area code is superimposed on the existing region with the result that two different area codes serve the same region. Current customers (wireline or wireless) within the region keep the area code and seven digit number assigned to them while new telecommunication services are assigned the new area code.
Under federal regulations, once an overlay is established, all calls within the existing region will require 10 digit dialing, meaning that the three digit area code plus the seven digit number will always have to be dialed when making a call. For example, anyone calling a number within the new area code, including customers assigned to the new area code, must dial the new area code plus the seven digit number. Similarly, anyone calling a number within the 631 area code, including existing 631 customers, must dial 631 plus the seven digit number.
Geographic Split Options:
In the geographic split option, the existing 631 area code, which is largely within the boundaries of Suffolk County, would be divided into two geographic sections. In one section of the county, current and new customers would continue to use telephone numbers with the existing 631 area code. In the remainder of the county, all customers, including customers who were previously using the 631 area code, would be assigned to and required to use the new area code. However, these customers would retain their seven current digit number – only the area code would change. With a geographic split, customers in either the existing 631 or the new area code would not be required to use 10-digit dialing when making calls within their area code.
The geographic split method divides the region covered by the existing area code into two sections. When the split is made, the boundary between these two sections will follow the boundaries between existing “rate centers.”For this reason, these boundaries may not conform to existing municipal boundaries or physical landmarks. In the geographic split proposal for the 631 area code, the dividing line between the existing and new area code would generally run north and south through the towns of Smithtown and Islip. The Staff White Paper includes maps that show the location of the dividing line.
Staff of the Department of Public Service (DPS) identified options for providing additional telephone number resources for the 631 area code region. These options were detailed in a Staff White Paper, issued June 16, 2014. The DPS further sought public comment on these alternative proposals. Interested members of the public were invited to attend information sessions to learn more about the area code relief proposals. Following the each of the information sessions, members of the public were able to provide their comments regarding this matter at a several public statement hearings.
More information regarding the 631 Area Code Proceeding can be found by reading staff's white paper, going to the New York State Department of Public Service website at www.dps.ny.gov or comments can be provided on this proceeding by clicking on the link noted below.
Submitt Comments Here
Other Ways to Comment:
Internet or Mail: In addition to the formal hearings, comments may be sent electronically to the Secretary, at email@example.com, or mailed or delivered to Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary, Public Service Commission, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12223-1350. Your comments should refer to “Case 14-C-0182 - 631 Area Code Relief.”
Toll-free Opinion Line: Comments may also be submitted through the Commission’s Opinion Line at 1-800-335-2120. This number is designed to take comments about pending cases from in-state callers, 24 hours a day. Callers should press “1” to leave comments, mentioning the Comcast/Time Warner merger.
A full copy of the petition and Staff White Paper may be viewed, printed or downloaded from the Commission’s website at http://www.dps.ny.gov by searching for Case Number 14-C-0182. Comments will be accepted throughout the pendency of this proceeding. Comments will become part of the record considered by the Commission. Written comments may be accessed on the Commission’s website by searching Case 14-C-0182 (at www.dps.ny.gov, enter Case Number 14-C-0182 in the input box labeled "Search for Case/Matter Number") and clicking on the “Public Comments” tab. Many libraries offer free Internet access.
The Commission’s decision in this case, when issued, may be obtained on the Commission’s website by searching for Case 14-C-0182 as described above. Commission orders may also be obtained from the Commission’s Files Office, 14th floor, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223 (518-474-2500). If you have difficulty understanding English, please call us at 1-800-342-3377 for free language assistance services regarding this press release.
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