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CPUC Holds Hearing on Adding '628' Area Code for Marin

With all available three-digit prefixes in the 415 area code projected to be used up by October 2015, officials will discuss a possible area code change in San Francisco and San Rafael this week.

By Bay City News Service

The California Public Utilities Commission is holding public hearings in San Rafael on Thursday on plans to add a new area code to the current "415" area code zone.

In light of projections that all of the available three-digit prefixes in the 415 area code will be used up by October 2015, the CPUC is beginning the process of introducing a new area code – 628 – to the region.

The commission is holding public meetings to get input on the plan.

The first two meetings were held at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday at the CPUC Auditorium at 505 Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco and included a presentation to local and elected officials. Public comment was not solicited until the 7 p.m. hearing, CPUC spokesman Christopher Chow said.

On Thursday, the CPUC is holding public meetings at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in San Rafael City Council chambers at 1400 Fifth Ave. in San Rafael.

The CPUC can choose to either split the 415 region into two parts, forcing some residents to switch area codes, or assign the new 628 area code only to new numbers, which is called an overlay.

Representatives of the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, a neutral third-party area code relief planner for the state, met in September with service providers to discuss the options, and the industry consensus was to implement the overlay plan, according to the CPUC.

The 415 area code covers San Francisco and Marin.

People unable to attend the meetings can submit written comments to the CPUC public advisor's office at 320 W. Fourth St., Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90013, or via email to public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov.

Comments can also be submitted online at www.cpuc.ca.gov/415.

Copyright © 2012 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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Rico January 17, 2013 at 07:00 PM
The problem is with the proliferation of new mobile phones and smart phones being marketed, not a sudden explosion of new people moving to Marin. In fact, according to the US Census Bureau, the population of Marin (except Novato) grew by less than 1 % from 2000 to 2010 (Novato grew by 9.2 % during that same period) I wrote a letter to the CPUC explaining what is going on and how I feel as I was unable to attend the meetings. If there are enough prefixes available to serve all the existing customers until 2015, then I say for starters that all new mobile phone customers should get the new area code. That would be a form of overlay and more fair to existing businesses and residential land line customers. The only reason that mobile phone carriers were not required to have separate area codes is because they lobbied against it, but now I think their time has come. All the mobile phone carriers have their own unique set of prefixes already, different from any original or new landline prefixes, so it would be easy to assign the new area code to mobile networks. Here is a tip, I ported my landline business number to a mobile carrier about 6 years ago, so I now have a landline number on my mobile business phone, anyone can do this. Also, if one wants to keep their original business number on a land line, one can use the call forwarding feature to a mobile phone, or buy an answering machine that forwards messages to your mobile phones.
Bill McGee January 18, 2013 at 12:12 AM
Ricardo - no where does it suggest in the story, nor have I heard anyone suggest that we are running out of numbers in 415 due to population increase but I know you don't like to pass on an opportunity to talk about the Marin census figures! We are actually one of the last area codes to be split as this story has repeated itself all across the country. There was a even a Seinfeld episode about ten years ago built around the change to an overlay in New York City. The Public Utilities always has this public comment period and then they almost always they go with an overlay due to public comment. The overlay is more popular because no one wants to change their number. I really don't care that much however I do like being able to identify an area code with a specific area which will be less precise with an overlay. We were fortunate to keep 415 in Marin when 510 and 650 were formed many years ago. ...and yes Ricardo, it is becuase of more cell phones.
Rico January 18, 2013 at 07:01 PM
So, how long before the CPUC makes a decision ? They considered the same thing about 8 years ago, claiming that they were running out of numbers. But then they (the CPUC) discovered it was not true, so they scrapped the idea. Now, 8 years later they want to try it again.
Bill McGee January 18, 2013 at 09:57 PM
Ricardo, you are relentless in passing false information. Actually it has been about 15 years (not 8 years) since we have know there would have to be an additional area code. We are running out of prefixes, not phone numbers. The prefixes are set to run out in the third quarter of 2015. They did not "scrap" the idea, they apparently changed the way they applied prefixes to become more efficient to prolong the time before having to add an area code. BTW Ricardo, your boy David Schonbrunn was at the public meeting in San Rafael and very critical of the process. Maybe you two have a lot in common after all. Here is what Schonbrunn said according to the IJ: (begin copy and paste from IJ) "Schonbrunn said he participated in similar discussions about the need for a new area code more than a decade ago, and that good solutions still haven't been developed. He said the FCC's rules are "moronic" and in need of adjustment. "It's ridiculous that we're having this discussion," Schonbrunn said. "I'm confident there are engineering solutions" (end copy and paste). My opinion - no big deal. Changing numbers for a business is a hassle and costs money, but with a little advance notice, it is not that costly and certainly no more costly than changing an address. Most businesses are using electronic documents anyway. Less and less is being done on hard copies these days.
Bill McGee January 18, 2013 at 10:04 PM
I remember when I could tell where someone was located by their prefix. Those days are long gone. In the next few years we could be using alphebetical addresses for phone calls much like email. Today I find myself making calls from my cell phone even while sitting in my office because it is faster to dial one click from my cell using the address book. My guess in ten years from now we look back at the area code change as a non-event so best not to stress too much over this.
Bill McGee January 18, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Sorry, I meant to include in my last post...that with the overlay we will all be dialing 11 digits (1 + area code + prefix = last four digits) on EVERY phone call, local or otherwise. They arleady do this in many large areas such as New York. This will be another reason we will be making more calls from cell phones on unlimited dialing plans.

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