In the Matter of 


  NSD File No. L-98-134


                      December 21, 1998
  I.  Introduction and New Hampshire Background
       On November 6, 1998, the Common Carrier Bureau (CCB) of
  the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued Public
  Notice DA98-2265 seeking comment on the North American
  Numbering Council Report (NANC Report) Concerning Telephone
  Number Pooling And Other Optimization Measures.  On the same
  date, NANPA sent to the New Hampshire Public Utilities
  Commission (NHPUC) a document which officially declared New
  Hampshire's 603 area code to be in "extraordinary jeopardy." 
  The State of New Hampshire has approximately 800,000 access
  lines and 200,000 wireless subscribers among a population of
  about 1.2 million whereas there are approximately 7.7 million
  telephone numbers in the 603 numbering plan area (NPA) code.
       On December 14, 1998, NHPUC submitted its Petition for
  Reconsideration responsive to the FCC's September 28, 1998
  Memorandum Opinion and Order addressing area code issues
  before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.  In our
  Petition for Reconsideration, the NHPUC requested that the
  FCC: (1) remove the condition in Paragraph 24 that requires a
  state commission to decide upon a specific form of area code
  relief before it is allowed to impose central office code
  (NXX) conservation measures; (2) authorize state commissions
  to implement NXX conservation measures that do not interfere
  with the FCC's guidelines for traditional area code relief;
  and, (3) clarify the authority state commissions have to order
  return of NXXs.
       This confluence of events heightens our concerns about
  this critical telecommunications public policy issue.  The
  NHPUC therefore respectfully submits the following comments on
  this Public Notice in order to offer our initial assessment of
  potential short term and long term solutions to those
       First and foremost, the NHPUC believes that time is of
  the essence.  The need for individual states, including New
  Hampshire, to be able to move forward quickly and invoke any
  and all reasonable and prudent number conservation and
  optimization measures is obvious.   If conservation measures
  are not quickly implemented, New Hampshire will face the
  irrational and harmful prospect of adding a new area code,
  with the associated costs to customers, in the face of a
  number-to-lines ratio of 8 to 1. Thus, any delays in
  decisionmaking in order to ferret out minutiae will come at a
  significant, though difficult to quantify, cost. 
       Second, as a general policy matter, the NHPUC supports
  the notion that more choice among competing number
  conservation options is better than less choice, as it gives
  states the maximum flexibility to implement those options that
  are best suited to the individual, perhaps even unique,
  conditions in that state.  Therefore, we urge the FCC to adopt
  as many of the NANC's recommended options as the FCC finds
  viable.  Having said this, we duly recognize the FCC's need to
  ensure a certain level of consistency of numbering across the
  entire geographic area served by the North American Numbering
  Plan (NANP).
  II.  Comments
       Following review of the NANC Report, the NHPUC makes the
  following general recommendations, which are discussed in more
  detail in the paragraphs which follow:
                 (1)  that, as soon as possible, the FCC order the
            use of Thousand Number Block Pooling (TNP), as
            defined in Section 5 of the NANC Report;
                 (2)  that the FCC adopt Individual Telephone Number
            Pooling (ITN), as delineated in Section 4 of
            the NANC Report, as the long term solution and
            move forward to order service providers to
            become LNP-capable as soon as practicable; and,
                 (3)  that the FCC require revision of Industry
            Assignment (CO Code) Guidelines, particularly
            those addressing fill rate and inventory level
            requirements and reclamation of unused codes
            and thousand number blocks.
       We also comment briefly on the other issues for which the
  FCC sought comment: Unassigned Number Porting (UNP), Expanded
  Local Calling Areas (ELCA), and Mandatory 10-digit dialing. 
  In addition to those areas, we address questions relating to
  the role of NANPA, code sharing and transparent routing number
  assignment, the lack of useful cost data, and potential issues
  relating to public safety.
       A.  TNP
       Of the fourteen options defined by NANC, the NHPUC
  believes that the most important short-term relief option
  targeted for comment is Thousand Number Block Pooling (TNP). 
  As stated in the Executive Summary to the NANC Report, "Based
  on the work of the NRO-WG to date, as documented in this
  report, thousands block pooling is the only number pooling
  alternative that potentially meets the FCC's December 1999
  date for deployment of number pooling in LNP areas in
  accordance with a consistent nationwide plan."  Given this
  statement, and the need for timely policy implementation, this
  alternative, above all others, urgently requires affirmative
  action by the FCC, including, but not limited to, ordering
  vendors to implement needed hardware and software changes in a
  timely fashion.  This solution dovetails with what we
  perceive to be the long-term solution to the numbering
  resources problem in the United States: Individual Telephone
  Number Pooling or ITN, as spelled out in Section 4 of the NANC
       B.  ITN
       While Thousand Number Block Pooling may mitigate the
  numbering problem in the short term, a long-term solution to
  the numbering problem needs to be identified.  We concur
  generally with the view of the Colorado Public Utilities
  Commission that having a long term solution in place will
  enable the FCC to focus its efforts upon those short-term
  solutions which best fit with the long run solution chosen,
  but point out that maximum short-term flexibility is required
  for addressing imminent number exhaust situations.  Though
  certain technological and other obstacles may exist at
  present, the long run solution is to move to Individual
  Telephone Number Pooling (ITN).  ITN will fully utilize our
  numbering resources by assigning every assignable number in an
  NXX code before another NXX code is put into use.  Thus, from
  a pure efficiency standpoint in terms of number utilization,
  ITN is unassailable as a solution to the numbering resource
       C. UNP
       The NHPUC is intrigued by the possibilities afforded by
  Unassigned Number Porting (UNP) as an interim (i.e.,
  jeopardy-avoiding) solution and believes that it may warrant
  further inquiry and approval as another temporary tool in the
  numbering conservation arsenal.  However, UNP should be
  endorsed only as an additional measure and not in place of TNP
  and ITN.  The NHPUC has a concern that the costs may be too
  high relative to the short term benefits produced and that it
  would be difficult to find a neutral third party to govern
  sharing between providers.
       D. CO Code Assignment Guidelines
       The NHPUC generally supports the Comments of the Colorado
  PUC with respect to code assignment guidelines, but recognizes
  that such efforts, though necessary and useful, may not be
  implemented in time to resolve short term number exhaust
  issues in New Hampshire.  The NHPUC believes that revision of
  the guidelines governing reclamation of unused codes should be
  a priority, as well revision of those guidelines addressing
  fill rates and inventory level requirements. Also, to the
  extent that number utilization audits and penalties can
  provide the correct incentives for service providers to
  implement LNP on a shorter timeline, such measures should be
  made effective without delay, with the caveat that they be
  applied in a competitively-neutral manner.
       E.  ELCA
       Although the NHPUC has not fully analyzed the details necessary to implement
  Extended Local Calling Areas (ELCAs) between wireline providers in NH, we believe this
  option may have merit.  In order to provide statewide coverage in NH today, a CLEC needs
  32 NXXs or, under the current system, 320,000 telephone numbers.  With ELCA, certain
  CLECs, such as those who primarily provide service to Internet Service Providers (ISPs),
  would be able to provide comparable service by using only one NXX rather than 32.  States
  should be allowed to consider ELCA among the available number conservation measures. 
       F.  Mandatory 10-Digit Dialing
       The NHPUC considered mandatory 10-digit dialing in
  protracted hearings in 1993 and chose instead to implement
  7-digit dialing for all in-state toll calls.  New Hampshire
  consumers, then and now, have a strong preference for avoiding
  mandatory 10-digit dialing.  Where, as here, alternative
  conservation measures are available, imposing the
  inconvenience of mandatory 10-digit dialing should be a last
       G.  The role of NANPA
       The FCC has encouraged commenting parties to address,
  "what entity or entities should be assigned the responsibility
  of requesting number usage data from carriers and other code
  holders and whether the NANPA or some other entity should
  perform forecast analyses on such data."  At the NHPUC, we
  have already begun an informal state survey of NXX code
  utilization, including a request to code holders and potential
  code holders (to the extent they are known) to provide a
  limited forecast of anticipated demand for new NXX codes
  through the year 2001.
       More extensive efforts need to be undertaken at the
  national level.  This important information gathering and
  forecasting function should be assigned to an unbiased entity
  capable of efficient, accurate performance.  State-specific
  information should then be shared fully with state
       As presently constituted, NANPA relies on reaching
  industry consensus.  Experience suggests it is usually
  difficult, if not impossible, to achieve such consensus
  because of the competing interests of the stakeholders
  involved in the process.  Given this fact, the FCC should take
  whatever immediate steps are within its authority to
  accelerate the decisionmaking process at NANPA, either by
  implementing measures which redefine how NANPA operates or
  through any other measures which, collectively, lead to the
  desired information flow and policy implementation efficiency
  gains.  Again, at the risk of emphasizing this point
  unnecessarily, there is an urgent need to make decisions soon
  enough to avoid absurd results.
       Clearly, at a basic level, the role of NANPA in this
  process needs to be re-examined. The NHPUC is interested in
  learning more about the merits of the proposals put forth by
  the Colorado PUC regarding fundamental changes to the way in
  which NANPA operates.
       H.  Cost data and other information gaps
       The recalcitrance of industry participants to release
  relevant cost data concerning implementation costs for Local
  Number Portability (LNP) and other number optimization
  measures should not be allowed to delay the process of
  implementing conservation measures.  There are ways to protect
  the proprietary nature of the data provided and yet still
  reveal the underlying cost constraints required to bring about
  full LNP.  Carriers and other relevant parties should not be
  allowed to hide behind the "proprietary" veil and thus thwart
  efforts to meet public needs in the most efficient manner
  possible.  The bottom line is simply that the implementation
  costs of each of the fourteen options examined in the NANC
  Report need to be better understood and there needs to be a
  reasonable process in place to reach an accurate determination
  of these costs.
       I.  Other
       Though the FCC has not sought comment on code sharing and
  transparent routing number assignment at this time, the NHPUC
  believes these options deserve attention as stop-gap measures
  having significant potential either to forestall the need for
  the introduction of a new area code or else to mask its
  introduction from an end user perspective.  Transparent
  routing, in particular, has the additional benefit of allowing
  for an overlay of a new area code, on a temporary basis, that
  is transparent (unknown) to the end user.  This would allow
  states to move forward with implementation of other number
  conservation measures which could ultimately allow the
  transparent NPA to be returned to NANPA for redistribution. 
  In the meantime, consumers and businesses are not faced with
  the clearly avoidable costs associated with a non-transparent
  area code change.  The NHPUC views these solutions as having
  merit as interim tools with the understanding that, like the
  other measures discussed in the NANC Report, the
  implementation costs associated with these options require
  further elucidation.
       One final area which merits attention is the issue of
  public safety.  Here, the NHPUC applauds the effort of the
  Colorado Public Utilities Commission to focus attention on
  this important subject.
  III. Conclusion
       As stated previously, the NHPUC believes that timeliness
  regarding area code policy implementation is of paramount
  importance and urges quick action by the Commission.  The
  NHPUC also urges the FCC to order the implementation of as
  many alternative measures as are viable, while focusing its
  attention on those options that will provide immediate relief
  to states facing imminent area code exhaust due to inefficient
  allocation of numbering resources.