HARRISBURG – In order to ensure that customers in the 570 area code region are fully informed about ten-digit dialing when the implementation of the 272 overlay begins, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) Wednesday approved an extension of the customer education and permissive dialing period for the area.

The Commission voted 5-0 to approve part of a petition filed by the Joint Carriers (which include several telecommunications companies) to modify the implementation schedule for the 570 overlay from a three-month customer education and permissive dialing period to a six-month period.

When introducing a new area code, there is an adjustment period commonly known as a permissive dialing period.

The permissive dialing period will commence approximately six months before the new area code becomes effective.

During the permissive dialing period, customers may reach numbers in the current area code that by either dialing ten or seven digits. At that time companies will start customer education programs informing customers that, when the new overlay area code is activated, all calls be made by dialing ten digits, which includes the area code and the seven-digit number.

At the end of the permissive period, the mandatory dialing period commences and all calls must be made using the area code plus the seven-digit number.

If only the seven-digit number is dialed at this time, the customer will reach a recorded announcement stating they must hang up and redial the number using the area code plus the seven-digit number. This recording will be available permanently.

On July 15, 2010, the Commission voted 5-0 to approve an overlay plan, in an effort to implement the form of area code relief that is the least disruptive.

An overlay plan means that once the existing telephone numbers in the 570 area code are exhausted, new telephone services in that geographic region will be assigned telephone numbers out of the new area code, which has been designated as 272.

Ten-digit local dialing will then apply to all telephone calls.

The Commission has directed Neustar, the third-party area code relief planner, to continue to provide monthly updates on the projected exhaust date of the 570 area code.

Currently, the projected exhaust date is the third quarter of 2013, and when we receive information that the exhaustion date is six months away, all affected carriers will be informed and the customer education and permissive dialing period will begin.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities to ensure safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protect the public interest; educate consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; further economic development; and foster new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.

For recent news releases, video and audio of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit the PUC website at www.puc.pa.gov.