DT 99-603
                   AREA CODE RELIEF PLAN
                 O R D E R   N O.  23,166
                      March 19, 1999
       The North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA)
     filed with the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission
     (Commission) on February 18, 1999, a request for approval of an
     area code relief plan.  Area codes, also called Numbering Plan
     Areas (NPAs), represent a large but finite amount of 7-digit
     telephone numbers which are assigned by the NANPA in individual
     10,000 number blocks known as Central Office codes or NXXs.  When
     all the NXXs within an NPA have been assigned, a new NPA must be
       Increased competition and increased use of
     informational telecommunications applications such as the
     Internet have caused a sharp increase in the volume of requests
     to NANPA for NXXs. Therefore, the NXXs in New Hampshire's NPA,
     603, are in danger of being exhausted if current number
     allocation practices continue. According to NANPA, which cites
     the Industry Central Office Code Assignment Guidelines, an
     official jeopardy condition exists for an NPA when the forecasted
     and/or actual demand for NXX resources will exceed the known
     supply during the planning and implementation interval for NPA
     relief.  Based upon demand projections submitted to NANPA by New
     Hampshire telecommunications carriers, on November 6, 1998, NANPA
     declared an Extraordinary Jeopardy Situation (jeopardy) in NPA
     603, thus setting in motion certain activities for NPA relief in
     order to prevent number exhaust.
       After NANPA declared jeopardy, the Commission
     participated in two industry meetings convened by the NANPA for
     the purpose of reaching industry consensus on NPA relief actions,
     on November 19, 1998 and January 7, 1999.  In addition, in
     December 1998, the Commission initiated a study of NXX code
     assignment practices, requesting that all local exchange carriers
     attend a meeting to discuss the issue on December 22, 1998 and
     complete a questionnaire on NXX code assignments (NXX Survey).
       On December 18, 1998, MediaOne Telecommunications of
     New Hampshire Inc. (MediaOne) filed its responses to the
     Commission's NXX Survey, requesting at the same time by Motion
     for Protective Treatment that certain of the responses be treated
     as proprietary and confidential.  On March 4, 1999, New England
     Telephone and Telegraph Company (Bell Atlantic) filed its
     responses to the Commission's NXX Survey and a Motion for
     Protective Treatment similar to that of MediaOne.  Pursuant to
     Puc 204.05(b), the documents have been protected as provided in
     Puc 204.06(d).  The responses provided by these carriers
     (Responses) contain data about historical and projected NXX
     utilization.  The Responses constitute competitively sensitive
     information, release of which would cause harm to the carriers'
     business interest.  Hence, the Responses are within the
     "confidential, commercial or financial information" exemptions
     from disclosure set forth in RSA 91-A:5,IV and N.H. Admin. Rules,
     Puc 204.06.  Furthermore, the carriers aver that they regularly
     protect this type of information, which is not otherwise
     generally in the public knowledge or published elsewhere, from
     disclosure or dissemination in the ordinary course of business. 
       We find that the Responses contain information meeting
     the requirements of N.H. Admin. Rule Puc 204.06(b) and (c). 
     Based on the carriers' representations, under the balancing test
     we have applied in prior cases, e.g.,Re New England Telephone
     Company (Auditel), 80 NHPUC 437 (1995); Re Bell Atlantic, DE
     97-171 (SGAT) Order No. 22,851 (February 17, 1998); Re
     EnergyNorth Natural Gas, Inc., Order No. 22,859 (February 24,
     1998), we find that the benefits to Bell Atlantic and MediaOne of
     non-disclosure in this case outweigh the benefits to the public
     of disclosure.  Therefore, the Responses should be exempt from
     public disclosure pursuant to RSA 91-A:5,IV and N.H. Admin. Rule
     204.06. Furthermore, we find that all carriers who respond to the
     NXX Survey are subject to the same competitive pressures and
     commercial sensitivities regarding number resource utilization. 
     Responses to the NXX Survey are competitively sensitive; the
     benefits to the carriers of non-disclosure outweigh the benefits
     to the public of disclosure.  Responses to the NXX Survey should
     therefore be exempt from public disclosure pursuant to RSA
     91-A:4,IV and N.H. Admin. Rule Puc 204.06.     
       The NANPA filing raises, inter alia, the following
     issues: (a) the extent of and causes of impending exhaust, (b)
     options to prevent such exhaust and the cost and competition
     consequences of such options, and (c) which type of NPA relief
     would be appropriate for New Hampshire.  With respect to the type
     of NPA relief that might be appropriate if relief is needed, the
     filing reports that industry participants at the January 7, 1999
     meeting discussed two geographic split options and two overlay
     options before arriving at a consensus to recommend an
     all-services overlay to the PUC.  
       In reviewing this recommendation and the NANPA
     petition, the Commission will take into account a number of
     criteria for judging an area code relief plan including, but not
     limited to, minimizing customer disruption, cost, and confusion,
     conserving the total pool of telephone numbers if a new area code
     is created, minimizing geographic controversy and the chances of
     future area code changes, ensuring public safety, equitable
     treatment of consumers and competitive neutrality.  The
     Commission will review all potential area code relief plans,
     including options not discussed by the industry participants. 
       Based upon the foregoing, it is hereby
       ORDERED, that a Prehearing Conference, pursuant to N.H.
     Admin. Rules Puc 203.05, be held before the Commission located at
     8 Old Suncook Road, Concord, New Hampshire on April 7, 1999 at
     10:00 a.m., at which each party will provide a preliminary
     statement of its position with regard to the petition and any of
     the issues set forth in N.H. Admin Rule Puc 203.05(c) shall be
     considered; and it is
       FURTHER ORDERED, the MediaOne's and Bell Atlantic's
     Motions for Protective Treatment are GRANTED; and is it
       FURTHER ORDERED, that all responses to the Commission's
     NXX Survey shall be treated confidentially pursuant to N.H.
     Admin. Rule Puc 204.06; and it is
       FURTHER ORDERED, that this grant of confidentiality is
     subject to the ongoing rights of the Commission, on its own
     motion or on the motion of Staff, any party, or any other member
     of the public to reconsider this Order in light of RSA 91-A,
     should circumstances so warrant; and it is
       FURTHER ORDERED, that, immediately following the
     Prehearing Conference, the Staff of the Commission and any
     Intervenors hold a Technical Session to review the petition; and
     it is
       FURTHER ORDERED, that pursuant to N.H. Admin. Rules Puc
     203.01, the Executive Director and Secretary shall notify all
     persons desiring to be heard at this hearing by publishing a copy
     of this Order of Notice no later than March 26, 1999, in a
     newspaper with statewide circulation or of general circulation in
     those portions of the state in which operations are conducted,
     publication to be documented by affidavit filed with the
     Commission on or before April 7, 1999; and it is
       FURTHER ORDERED, that pursuant to N.H. Admin. Rules Puc
     203.02, any party seeking to intervene in the proceeding shall
     submit to the Commission an original and eight copies of a
     Petition to Intervene with copies sent to and the Office of the
     Consumer Advocate on or before April 2, 1999, such Petition
     stating the facts demonstrating how its rights, duties,
     privileges, immunities or other substantial interests may be
     affected by the proceeding, as required by N.H. Admin. Rule Puc
     203.02 and RSA 541-A:32,I(b); and it is
       FURTHER ORDERED, that any party objecting to a Petition
     to Intervene make said Objection on or before April 7, 1999.
       By order of the Public Utilities Commission of New
     Hampshire this nineteenth day of March, 1999.
     Douglas L. Patch       Susan S. Geiger          Nancy Brockway
     Chairman                      Commissioner            Commissioner
     Attested by:
     Thomas B. Getz
     Executive Director and Secretary
       Any individuals needing assistance or auxiliary communication aids
     due to sensory impairment or other disability, should contact the American with
     Disabilities Act Coordinator, NHPUC, 8 Old Suncook Road, Concord, New Hampshire 
     03301-7319; 603-271-2431; TDD Access:  Relay N.H. 1-800-735-2964.  Preferably,
     notification of the need for assistance should be made one week before the
     scheduled event.