Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Split or Overlay Being Considered (Union-Tribune 022207)

Split or overlay being considered
By Kathryn Balint
February 22, 2007
The 760 area code, which stretches 400 miles from Escondido to national forestlands in Mono County, will run out of phone numbers within 2½ years unless it is split or overlaid with a new area code.

The association responsible for giving out phone numbers proposes either dividing the 760 area code into two areas – one that would keep the 760 designation and one that would be assigned a new code, 442 – or imposing an “overlay” in which new customers would be given the 442 area code.

John Manning, director of the North American Numbering Plan Administration, said increasing use of fax machines, cell phones and Voice-Over-Internet Protocol phone service has boosted demand for telephone numbers.
Area-Code Changes:
How to weigh in
Who: California Public Utilities Commission
What: Public participation meeting
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: El Centro City Council chambers, 1275 Main St., El Centro
Web site:
Letter: PUC Public Advisor's Office, 320 W. Fourth St., Suite 500,
Los Angeles, CA 90013

“In the past, a household had one phone number, and now every person in the household – even the children – has a cell phone,” he said.

The administration, run by NeuStar, a Sterling, Va., company under contract to the Federal Communications Commission, distributes available phone numbers within the 332 area codes in North America.

The 760 area code will have depleted all possible prefixes by fall 2009, according to administration estimates. Currently, about 60 prefixes are left out of the nearly 800 available in the 760 code.

While each area code has 7.9 million total phone numbers available, the numbers are assigned by individual phone companies, and Manning said he didn't know how many numbers are in use in the 760 area code.

The administration and the telephone companies that service 760 have come up with three options being considered by the California Public Utilities Commission. Two would split the region into two separate area codes, and one would overlay the 442 prefix over the whole region.

The alternatives calling for a division of the area code do not specify which portion would get the 442 code and which would keep 760. If the commission votes to divide the 760 code, it would decide which area keeps the 760 prefix.

The 760 area code covers a sprawling region, including Escondido, Oceanside, Vista, Encinitas, Valley Center, San Marcos, Fallbrook and Julian in San Diego County. It also covers parts of Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino, Mono and Inyo counties.

One option for a split would separate the San Diego County territory into its own area code. A second option would combine that region in north and east San Diego County with Imperial County areas into one area code.

The telephone companies recommend the overlay of a new code, said Joe Cocke, the administration's senior area-code relief planner.

Both the split and the overlay would extend the life of prefixes available in the current 760 region by 14 years to 22 years, depending on the plan. Each has disadvantages.

In the case of a split, companies assigned a new area code must redo letterhead stationery and business cards, change advertisements and get the word out to customers. Residents would have to send out address-book updates and deal with the headaches of a new phone number.

With an overlay, every land-line caller would have to dial 1, plus the area code, for all calls – whether the number is a new number with the new area code. All cell phone callers would dial the area code and number even if the service is in the same area code.
Local calling areas and prices would not shift as a result of an area-code split or overlay, Manning said.

The PUC staff held a meeting in Carlsbad last night to explain options and take public input. The final decision is up to the five-member commission and is not expected until the end of the year, said PUC spokeswoman Susan Carothers.

“It's a factor of doing business, but it's very painful if you're a small business,” said Ted Owen, president and chief executive of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.
Owen said that if the area-code change is essential, businesses would prefer to have the longest grace period possible – 12 to 18 months.

The 760 area code was imposed in 1997 after a six-month grace period during which the old 619 prefix and the new 760 code worked for numbers moved to 760.

“I know there will be some folks who are not going to be happy about it happening,” said Harvey Mitchell, president and chief executive of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce. “It's expensive for everybody. However, as a practical matter, we need it to continue our growth.”
The numbering administration proposed splitting the 760 code seven years ago, but the idea was postponed when it conserved numbers by distributing them to phone companies in blocks of 1,000 instead of blocks of 10,000.

Of the four area codes added last year in North America – two in Canada and two in the United States – all were overlays, Manning said.

He said overlays are more common in small geographic areas, such as Los Angeles, while a split might be more feasible for a large area such as the 760 area code.

“When you're dealing with a large geographic area, I'd say the opportunity to do a split is better in that you can still retain some type of geographic significance,” Manning said.


Kathryn Balint: (619) 293-2848;

BS Ranch Perspective:

Looks like either the population in San Diego County, Kern, and Inyo Counties are all growing by leaps and bounds that every one is demanding or purchasing Cellular phones, that they are getting new phone numbers accessing the already dwindling available phone numbers in that area, they will see what it was once like for us big city area's to go through when the area changes took effect between us, Riverside and Los Angeles Counties.

OH, what fun it is now. When I was growing up, when you called to talk to a friend and they were not home, the phone would ring for approximately 18 times before going to a ring to the Operator. Then as time past you would call your friend and a special recorded message would ring out, asking for you to leave a message after a predetermined tone or beep.

As time rolled along, the family of four got what was known as a Pager, and PageNet was born in Southern California, I don't think that PageNet is around today!, they were huge at one time, at the beginning of the 90's and through to about 95 the pager was the one, then it was LA-Cellular that took over, but it was still around a dollar a minute for a cellular call.

Now, a Family of four, The Mother, Father, Son, & Daughter all have phones, Why we still have not allowed ourselves to get away from the old days, because the house still has its own phone for the people in the home to use. is many times that either many of your friends don't give out both numbers and you have one or the other, and it ranks you as how friendly you are with that family, if you have all their numbers well then you can bet that you are well suited to be in like the dickens with that family.

BS Ranch..

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