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Split in Area Code Stalls

June 20, 2003|Jean Merl | Times Staff Writer

State regulators will wait until at least Aug. 21 before deciding whether South Bay residents and businesses between Los Angeles International Airport and Long Beach will get a new area code.

Though opponents of the split in the 310 area code would have preferred to see the California Public Utilities Commission vote down the proposal, they nonetheless applauded the delay.

The move gives them more time to work with the PUC and the Federal Communications Commission "to find ways to keep putting this off, hopefully permanently," said John Parsons, a Redondo Beach councilman and incoming chairman of the South Bay Cities Council of Governments.

The council of governments, the South Bay Assn. of Chambers of Commerce and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice) have led the fight to keep the PUC from stripping the 310 area code from the South Bay and replacing it with a new 424 area code.

The PUC has for several years proposed new area codes for several parts of the state, citing a depletion of available telephone numbers. in some of the existing service areas.

Opponents say changing area codes causes hardships, especially on businesses and the elderly, and believe several steps can be taken to free up enough numbers to eliminate the need to change.

Harman, for example, has been urging the FCC to implement a "number portability" policy that would allow consumers who switch cellular phone services to take their old telephone numbers with them.

She also is urging the FCC to adopt a measure that would reduce the percentage of numbers phone companies can tie up without assigning them to customers.

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