News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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September 21, 2012

Regulatory wants public input on new area code

New numbers in 812 area code running out

TERRE HAUTE — The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor is inviting public comments on the telecommunications industry’s request to implement a new telephone area code throughout southern and south-central Indiana.

With the 812 area code projected to run out of numbers in 2015, the telecom industry has filed a formal request with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to add a new “overlay” code to the 812 area.

Under the overlay proposal:

• All customers in the 812 area code would keep their current 812 numbers.

• A new area code would be added and assigned to new customers/phones/devices throughout the region.

• 10-digit dialing (area code + number) for local calls would eventually become mandatory throughout the 812 area.

• Toll calls would still use 11 digits (1 + area code + number).

• Consumers would not need to reprogram existing cell phones, fax machines and other devices with new numbers.

Most states, including Indiana, have needed to add new area codes in the past two decades because of the proliferation of wireless phones and other communications devices. New area codes can be implemented either as overlays or geographic splits.

The industry’s filing in the 812 case offers several alternatives that could be used for implementing a geographic split, if the commission chooses that option.

Under a geographic split:

• Some existing customers would keep their current numbers while others would be assigned new numbers with the new area code.

• 7-digit dialing would stay in effect for local calls.

• Toll calls would still use 11 digits (1 + area code + number).

• Consumers with assigned new numbers would need to reprogram existing cell phones, fax machines and other devices.

• Businesses, nonprofit organizations, schools, government entities and other customers would have to pay for new signage, stationery, business cards, advertising, etc., showing their new numbers.

The area code changes will not affect local or long-distance telephone rates, local (free) calling areas, or calls to 911, 811 and 211.

The Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, the state agency representing residential, commercial and industrial consumer interests before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, is scheduled to file its response to the industry’s proposal on May 15, 2013.

In the meantime, consumers can comment in two ways:

1. By participating at one of the IURC’s public field hearings in the case. The hearings are expected to be scheduled in the early part of 2013, with more information to be posted at www.in.gov/oucc/2718.htm when it becomes available.

2. By sending written comments to the OUCC. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address and a reference to IURC Cause No. 44233.

Consumers who wish to submit written comments in this case can do so via the OUCC’s website at www.IN.gov/oucc/2361.htm, or by one of the following methods:

• U.S. Postal Service mail: Consumer Services Staff; Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor; 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South; Indianapolis, IN 46204

• email: uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov

• fax: 317-232-5923

Written comments received by May 7, 2013, will be filed with the commission and included in the case’s formal evidentiary record.

Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494. For a copy of the industry’s filing and for updates as this case progresses, visit www.in.gov/oucc/2718.htm. More information is also available at www.in.gov/iurc/2343.htm.

 

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