PUC drops idea of splitting the 814 area code

HARRISBURG — After almost two years of research and hearings regarding the possible split of the 814 area code — or the implementation of a new area code, 582 — the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) Thursday voted to dismiss the relief plan and implementation schedule of the geographic split.

That’s good news for area residents and local businesses, according to state Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson).

“This is a real victory for the many residents who came to public hearings to offer their opinions and express their concerns about dividing communities into 582 and 814 area codes,” he said. “I would like to thank the PUC for giving consideration to the businesses and citizens in this area that would have been placed into a new area code before rendering its decision.”

In March 2012, the PUC was informed that the projected exhaust date for the 814 area code has been extended over five years or until the second quarter of 2018.

And Thursday, the PUC voted 5-0 to dismiss the 2009 petition filed by Neustar, the neutral third-party North American Number Planning Administrator, on behalf of the telecommunications industry to provide area code relief for the 814 Numbering Plan Area (NPA).

In January 2012, the PUC announced it had suspended the implementation of area code relief in the 814 region pending the April 2012 release of projected exhaust dates.

The PUC’s recent review of the area code indicates that the 814 NPA has experienced a more efficient use of telephone numbers through a decrease in the demand for numbers and continued efforts, such as mandatory thousands block pooling, to conserve numbering resources.

The 814 projected exhaust date now meets the criteria for withdrawal or dismissal set forth by federal regulations because a state commission is permitted to dismiss a relief petition when the agency determines that relief is no longer needed.

In June 2009, Neustar filed a petition recommending an overlay in 814. 
The PUC reviewed historical and forecasted data on current numbering resources and comments received from the public through hearings and written submissions.

From June 2009 to December 2010, the PUC received input from the public providing various comments supporting both the geographic split and overlay options available to the commission.

Therefore, Dec. 16, 2010, the PUC approved a plan to split the 814 area code along geographic boundaries to avoid running out of phone numbers, creating a new area code for customers in portions of northwestern Pennsylvania. 

Neustar chose 582 as the new area code.

The commission then reopened the record on the case and continued to review more than 40 petitions for reconsideration, and testimony received during additional technical conferences and public input hearings.

Relief alternatives — including an overlay of a new area code and various geographic splits of the existing area code running east to west, north to south or northeast to southeast — were considered.

“This ongoing issue has been one of great concern to many constituents in my district, and I am very pleased that the scheduled implementation has been dismissed,” Scarnati said. “I would also like to thank all the people who contacted my office on the matter and came out to public forums and made their voices heard.”