DT 99-603 AREA CODE RELIEF PLAN ORDER INITIATING PROCEEDING AND GRANTING CONFIDENTIALITY 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 opened. 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.