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Thursday, July 14, 2011

PUC to Host Public Hearing on 814 Area Code Change in Bradford

PUC to Host Public Hearing on 814 Area Code Change in Bradford, Causer Says

HARRISBURG – Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) is encouraging area residents concerned about a proposed change to the 814 area code to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in a public hearing in Bradford hosted by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC).

The hearing, to gather further input on the impact of various options to address a shortage of numbers in the 814 area code, will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 16, at the Bradford Township Fire Department, 368 Interstate Parkway. The hearing will begin at 6 p.m.

“I am pleased the PUC listened to the overwhelming opposition to its original plan to split the region in half, assigning a new area code to McKean County and points west while maintaining the existing code in the rest of the region,” Causer said. “People need to take advantage of the opportunity to voice their opinion about how best to address the number shortage.”

Other options available include different geographic split proposals, as well as an overlay that would allow people to keep their existing phone numbers and area code. Any new numbers assigned throughout the region would come with the new code. This would require 10-digit dialing for all calls, including local ones, but it would not change rates in any way. Causer introduced a House resolution calling on the PUC to consider that option.

“Much of the testimony I have seen from prior hearings, as well as information presented in petitions to the PUC opposing its original split plan, indicates there is more support for the overlay option than for a split,” Causer said. “Changing a residential phone number is inconvenient, but changing a business phone number can carry significant costs. The overlay will not require anyone to change their existing phone number.”

For people who would like to offer testimony at the hearing, the PUC offers the following tips:

Prepare what you are going to say beforehand. Even though it is not required, you may want to write out your statement, which can be read.
Bring copies. If you have a written statement you would like to give to the judge as evidence, please bring two copies for the court reporter and several copies for the other participants.

Plan to be questioned. Parties in the case may want to ask you a question to clarify something you said.

The PUC had announced late last year its plan to split the 814 area code region in half. Under the proposal, Cameron County and most of Potter County (except for Shinglehouse) would retain the 814 area code, while McKean and areas west would receive a new code. Earlier this year, the PUC agreed to review its decision and schedule additional hearings to gather input.

Neustar, a third-party area code relief planner, estimates existing numbers in the 814 area code will be exhausted by the first quarter of 2015.

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