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Montana PSC Granted Authority to Implement Mandatory Number Pooling

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Released: May 23, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-1209

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Numbering Resource Optimization
)
CC Docket No. 99-200
)
Implementation of the Local Competition
)
CC Docket No. 96-98
Provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 )
)
Petition of the Montana Public Service
)
Commission for Delegated Authority to Implement )
Number Conservation Measures
)

ORDER

Adopted: May 23, 2013

Released: May 23, 2013

By the Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Order, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) grants a petition filed by the
Montana Public Service Commission (Montana PSC or petitioner) for delegated authority to implement
mandatory thousands-block number pooling.1 For reasons discussed below, we conclude that the
Montana PSC has met the criteria established by the Federal Communications Commission (Commission)
for delegation of authority to implement mandatory pooling in the 406 numbering plan area (NPA).
Specifically, we find that the petitioner has demonstrated special circumstances justifying delegation of
authority to require pooling in a numbering plan area forecasted to exhaust within the next five years. In
granting this petition, we enable the state of Montana to optimize telephone number resources and further
extend the life of the 406 NPA.

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
Commission Rules and Orders. In the NRO First Report and Order, the Commission
determined that implementing thousands-block number pooling is essential to extending the life of the
North American Numbering Plan (NANP) by making the assignment and use of NXX codes more
efficient.2 Therefore, the Commission adopted national thousands-block number pooling as a valuable

1 See Montana Public Service Commission Petition for Delegated Authority to Implement Number Conservation
Measures, CC Docket Nos. 99-200, 96-98 (filed Nov. 21, 2011) (Montana Petition); see also Wireline Competition
Bureau Seeks Comment on the Montana Public Service Commission’s Petition for Delegated Authority to Implement
Number Conservation Measures
, CC Docket Nos. 99-200, 96-98, Public Notice, 26 FCC Rcd 16931 (Wireline
Comp. Bur. 2011). The Commission received no comments in response to the Public Notice.
2 Numbering Resource Optimization, CC Docket No. 99-200, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd 7574, 7625, para. 122 (2000) (NRO First Report and Order). The NANP, the basic
numbering scheme for the United States, Canada, and most Caribbean countries, is based on a 10-digit dialing
pattern, NPA-NXX-XXXX, where N represents any digit from 2 through 9 and X represents any digit from 0
through 9. Thousands-block number pooling is a telephone number resource optimization measure in which the
10,000 numbers in an NXX are divided into ten sequential blocks of 1,000 numbers and allocated to different
service providers (or different switches) within a rate center. See Numbering Resource Optimization, CC Docket

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DA 13-1209

mechanism to remedy the inefficient allocation and use of numbering resources and required thousands-
block pooling in the largest 100 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) within nine months of selection of
a pooling administrator.3 The Commission also sought to shield consumers from the unnecessary expense
and confusion related to premature area code splits or overlays caused by inefficient utilization of existing
resources.4
3.
The Commission allowed state commissions that previously had been given delegated
authority to implement thousands-block pooling to continue to do so.5 The Commission stated that it
would continue to consider state petitions for delegated authority to implement pooling outside the top
100 MSAs on a case-by-case basis.6 It delegated authority to the Common Carrier Bureau, now the
Wireline Competition Bureau, to rule on state petitions for delegated authority to implement number
conservation measures, including thousands-block number pooling, where no new issues were raised.7
4.
In implementing thousands-block number pooling, the Commission said that state
petitions for delegated authority must demonstrate three things: (1) that an NPA in the state is in jeopardy;
(2) that the NPA in question has a remaining life span of at least one year; and (3) that the NPA is in one
of the largest 100 MSAs or, alternatively, the majority of wireline carriers in the NPA are local number
portability (LNP)-capable.8 The Commission recognized that there may be “special circumstances”
where pooling would be of benefit in NPAs that do not meet all three criteria and said that pooling may be
authorized in such an NPA upon a satisfactory showing by the state commission of such special
circumstances.9

Nos. 99-200, 95-116, Fourth Report and Order,18 FCC Rcd 12472, 12474, para. 5 (2003) (NRO Fourth Report and
Order
).
3 See NRO First Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 7625, 7644-45, paras. 122, 157-58. MSAs, designated by the
Census Bureau, follow geographic borders and are defined using statistics that are widely recognized as indicative of
metropolitan character. See Policy and Rules Concerning Rates for Dominant Carriers, CC Docket No. 87-313,
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 8115, 8122, para. 17 n.26 (1997).
4 An area code split divides a geographic region into new, smaller regions that are assigned separate area codes. An
area code overlay, by contrast, keeps the same geographic area but adds another area code, resulting in multiple area
codes for the same geographic region. See Numbering Resource Optimization, Implementation of the Local
Competition Provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Petition of the Indiana Utility Regulatory
Commission, et al. for Delegated Authority to Implement Number Conservation Measures
, CC Docket No. 99-200,
Order, 25 FCC Rcd 5478, para. 1 (2010).
5 Section 251(e)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the Act), allows the Commission to delegate
to state commissions jurisdiction over telephone number administration. 47 U.S.C. § 251(e)(1).
6 See NRO First Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 7651, para. 169. At the time the NRO First Report and Order
was adopted, several states already had delegated authority to implement thousands-block pooling. Id. The
Commission observed that the national pooling framework, when adopted, would supersede the interim delegations
of authority to state commissions. Id.
7 See NRO First Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 7651-52, para. 170.
8 See id.; see also Numbering Resource Optimization, CC Docket Nos. 99-200, 95-116, Third Report and Order and
Second Order on Reconsideration, 17 FCC Rcd 252, 262, para. 21 n.47 (2001) (NRO Third Report and Order). In
the NRO Third Report and Order, the Commission rejected a request to delegate authority to the states to determine
on a case-by-case basis whether to extend pooling requirements. NRO Third Report and Order, 17 FCC Rcd at 262,
para. 21. The Commission explained that uniform national standards for pooling are necessary to minimize
confusion and additional expense related to compliance with inconsistent regulatory requirements. Id.
9 See NRO First Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 7651-52, para. 170.
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DA 13-1209

5.
National rollout of thousands-block number pooling commenced on March 15, 2002, in
the 100 largest MSAs and area codes previously subject to pooling pursuant to state delegation orders.10
All carriers operating within the 100 largest MSAs, except those specifically exempted by the order, were
required to participate in thousands-block number pooling in accordance with the national rollout
schedule.11 The Commission specifically exempted from the pooling requirement rural telephone
companies and Tier III Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers that have not received a
specific request for the provision of LNP from another carrier, as well as carriers that are the only service
provider receiving numbering resources in a given rate center.12 In exempting certain carriers from the
pooling requirement, the Commission recognized that pooling is most effective in areas where
competition exists.13 The Commission directed the North American Numbering Plan Administrator
(NANPA) to cease assignment of NXX codes (blocks of ten-thousand numbers) to carriers after they
were required to participate in pooling.14 Instead, carriers required to participate in pooling would receive
telephone number resources from the national thousands-block number Pooling Administrator responsible
for administering numbers in thousands-blocks.15
6.
As discussed above, the Commission concluded that mandatory pooling should initially
take place in the largest 100 MSAs.16 In the Pooling Rollout Order, the Bureau explained that it would
consider extending pooling outside of the top 100 MSAs after pooling was implemented in the top 100
MSAs.17 The Bureau also encouraged voluntary pooling in areas adjoining qualifying MSAs.18 Since the
completion of the national rollout of pooling in the top 100 MSAs, the Commission has extended pooling
in response to petitions from state utility commissions requesting permission to expand the scope of
thousands-block pooling.19
7.
The Montana Petition. On November 21, 2011, the Montana PSC filed a petition for
authority to implement mandatory thousands-block number pooling in the 406 NPA.20 In its petition, the
Montana PSC asserts that it has met the criteria for delegation of authority to implement pooling
established by the Commission and that, in addition, special circumstances exist to justify such
delegation.21 According to the Montana PSC, demand for number resources has increased and the 406
area code numbering resources are dwindling.22 The Montana PSC notes that the 406 area code currently

10 Numbering Resource Optimization, CC Docket No. 99-200, Order, 17 FCC Rcd 7347, 7348, paras. 3-4 (Wireline
Comp. Bur. 2002) (Pooling Rollout Order).
11 See NRO Fourth Report and Order, 18 FCC Rcd at 12477, para. 14.
12 See id. at 12473, para. 1. Tier III carriers are non-nationwide CMRS providers with no more than 500,000
subscribers as of the end of 2001. See id. at 12479, para. 18 n.50.
13 Id. at 12476, 12478, paras. 11, 17.
14 See id. at 12477, para. 14.
15 See id.
16 See NRO First Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 7645, para. 158.
17 Pooling Rollout Order, 17 FCC Rcd at 7348, para. 3.
18 See id. at 7348, para. 4
19 See Numbering Resource Optimization, CC Docket No. 99-200, Order and Fifth Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 21 FCC Rcd 1833 (2006); Numbering Resource Optimization, CC Docket No. 99-200, Order, 21 FCC
Rcd 13188 (2006) (Second Pooling Order).
20 Montana Petition at 1.
21 Id. at 3.
22 See id.
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DA 13-1209

has only 100 NXXs remaining out of 776 originally available (i.e., 87 percent of the available NXXs have
been assigned). In addition, while the Montana PSC warns that the 406 area code is projected to exhaust
in the second quarter of 2018, a more recent report reveals that the 406 area code is now projected to
exhaust in the third quarter of 2017.23

III.

DISCUSSION

8.
We delegate authority to the Montana PSC to implement mandatory thousands-block
number pooling in the 406 NPA. We conclude that the Montana PSC has demonstrated that special
circumstances warrant a delegation of authority to require pooling in the 406 NPA pursuant to the NRO
First Report and Order
.
9.
Pooling Authority Criteria. As stated above, the Bureau may delegate pooling authority
to a state when either all three criteria of the Commission’s test are met, or special circumstances exist
that would making pooling beneficial in an NPA.24 First, we examine the three pooling authority criteria.
Under the first prong, we find that the 406 NPA is not in jeopardy as defined by industry standards;
therefore the first prong is not met.25 Second, we find that the record demonstrates that the 406 NPA has
a remaining life span of at least one year.26 The 406 NPA is scheduled to exhaust in the third quarter of
2017; thus, the second prong is met. Third, we find that the Montana PSC has demonstrated that a
majority of the providers within the 406 NPA are LNP capable,27 and data from the Local Exchange
Routing Guide confirm this assertion.28 Accordingly, the third prong is also met. Because the first prong
is not met, however, the Bureau cannot delegate authority to the Montana PSC relying on the three-prong
test.
10.
Special Circumstances Showing. While the Montana PSC does not meet all three pooling
authority criteria, we also examine whether special circumstances exist that would make pooling
beneficial. The petitioner demonstrates that the NPA in question is experiencing an increase in demand
for numbering resources, coupled with low utilization rates. The Montana PSC notes, as proof of rising
demand, that the 406 area code currently has only 100 NXXs, or 10,000 blocks, remaining out of 776
originally available (i.e., 87 percent of the available NXXs have been assigned). In addition, the 406
NPA has 802 thousands-blocks assigned with 919 thousands-blocks available.29 According to the

23 See id.; see also NANPA Reports – NRUF, October 2012 NPA Exhaust Analysis (visited January 31, 2013)
http://nanpa.com/pdf/NRUF/October_2012_NPA_Exhaust_Analysis.pdf.

24 See supra para. 4.
25 The NPA Code Relief Planning and Notification Guidelines (ATIS 03-00061) industry guidelines, state that an
NPA is in jeopardy “when the forecasted and/or actual demand for CO Code resources will exceed the known
supply during the planning/implementation interval for relief. Accordingly, pending exhaust of CO Code resources
within an NPA does not represent a jeopardy condition if NPA relief has been or can be planned and the additional
CO Codes associated with the NPA will be implemented in time to satisfy the need for new CO codes.” See section
16.0 of the NPA Code Relief Planning and Notification Guidelines (ATIS 03-00061) at page 24. An area code is
placed in jeopardy by the NANP Administrator when there are not enough NXX codes available to last until relief is
provided. As previously stated, the 406 area code is projected to exhaust in the third quarter of 2017.
26 Montana Petition at 2.
27 Id. The petitioner notes, however, that all wireline carriers in Montana are LNP capable except two small rural
independent local exchange carriers, Hot Springs Telephone Company and Northern Telephone Cooperative. See
Montana Petition at 2, note 6.
28 See Telcordia Routing Administration, Local Exchange Routing Guide (updated January 2013).
29 Nationally, pooling is mandated in certain areas (such as the top 100 Metropolitan Statistical Areas) and is
optional in other areas. Service providers may voluntarily participate in thousands-block number pooling in an
optional area. Optional pooling has been implemented in part of Montana, which is why some NXX’s in the 406
4

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-1209

petitioner, the demand for numbering resources in the 406 NPA has increased. It states that in 2011
alone, 235 of the 802 already assigned thousands-blocks and 17 of the 100 already assigned NXXs in the
406 NPA were assigned, a clear indication that the rate of demand for numbering resources has rapidly
increased.30
11.
The Montana PSC argues that, in addition to this increased demand, carriers make
inefficient use of the 406 area code number resources. For example, the petitioner states that 47 Montana
carriers have only assigned 1.7 million lines out of the 6.2 million lines made available to them, for a
utilization factor of 26 percent.31 According to the petitioner, this is the third lowest utilization factor in
the United States behind North Dakota and South Dakota. The petitioner argues that Montana’s low
utilization factor is due in part to the fact that Montana does not have mandatory number pooling.
Finally, while the 406 NPA is not in jeopardy, it is projected to exhaust in the third quarter of 2017, in
just four years. The Commission has recognized that there may be special circumstances where an NPA
is projected to exhaust within five years.32

IV.

CONCLUSION

12.
Although it has failed to satisfy the first prong in the Commission’s three prong test, the
Montana PSC has demonstrated that there are special circumstances justifying delegation of authority to
implement mandatory pooling in the 406 NPA. Furthermore, we expect that pooling will be beneficial in
extending the life of that NPA. Given that the 406 NPA has a low utilization rate, is expected to exhaust
within the next five years, and many carriers are not participating in optional pooling, it is most efficient
and in the public interest to permit the Montana PSC to implement mandatory thousands-block number
pooling. The petitioner observes, and we agree, that mandatory thousands-block number pooling would
extend the life of the 406 NPA by putting to use resources that otherwise would be stranded.33
13.
We conclude that denying this petition would accelerate number exhaust by allowing
carriers to continue requesting blocks of 10,000 numbers, when far fewer numbers are needed to serve
their customers. We also conclude that denying its petition would be an inefficient use of resources since
the Montana PSC would have to refile the petition in the near future, when the 406 NPA becomes in
jeopardy. We believe that strict application of the jeopardy requirement would impair the petitioner’s
ability to optimize number resources.34 Therefore, for the reasons stated above, we hereby grant the
Montana PSC authority to implement mandatory thousands-block number pooling in the 406 NPA.

NPA have thousands-blocks assigned and available. The Montana PSC seeks to implement pooling throughout the
state.
30 Montana Petition at 2-3.
31 The petitioner states that the 47 carriers in Montana are comprised of 38 wireline carriers and nine mobile carriers.
According to the petitioner, the 38 wireline carriers have assigned 0.9 million out of 4.3 million lines available to
them for a utilization rate of 20 percent. The petitioner contrasts this with the wireless carriers’ higher utilization
rate of 41 percent for assigning 0.8 million of the 2 million lines available to them.
32 In the Matter of Numbering Resource Optimization Petition for Delegated Authority by the Public Utilities
Commission of Ohio et al.
, CC Docket No. 99-200, Order, 21 FCC Rcd 13188, 13193 at para. 11.
33 Montana Petition at 2, 5.
34 See Numbering Resource Optimization, CC Docket No. 99-200, Order and Fifth Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 21 FCC Rcd at 1837, para. 11 (2006); Second Pooling Order, 21 FCC Rcd at 13193, para. 11.
5

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-1209

V.

ORDERING CLAUSES

14.
ACCORDINGLY, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1, 4(i), and 251 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151, 154(i), 251, and sections 0.91, 0.291 and
52.9(b) of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.91, 0.291, 52.9(b), IT IS ORDERED that the Montana
PSC’s Petition for Delegated Authority to Implement Number Conservation Measures filed on November
21, 2011 IS GRANTED to the extent discussed herein.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Julie A. Veach
Chief
Wireline Competition Bureau
6

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