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PSC approves new area code in Central Florida

Central Florida, get ready for a new area code.

The Public Service Commission voted Tuesday to authorize the debut of 689 code for new customers, perhaps as soon as May 2019.

The North American Numbering Plan Administrator, or NANPA, which oversees the area code system, will figure out the precise timing.

“They’ll get back with us, and then we’ll issue an order cementing that date,” said Gary Fogleman, an analyst with the PSC.

The 689 will overlay the 407 and 321 area codes in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties, and parts of Lake and Volusia counties, where demand will exhaust the supply of open numbers.

Existing customers won’t be affected. Regulators see the overlay system as a better alternative to splitting an existing area code — as last happened in Florida in 1999, when 321 was split from 407.

“Then, you have to physically change everything,” Fogelman said. “We’re not doing that.”

NANPA first projected the need for the new code in 2001, but carriers and regulators managed to conserve phone numbers by forcing carriers to give up unused numbers.

Now, such gambits have run their course, Fogelman explained.

“Conservation measures had a good impact as far as trying to stretch it out,” he said. “But we’ve seen a big uptick in the number of demands from VOIP providers.

“And, of course, think about what’s happening in the cellular industry — it’s not just that you have one cell number for your house; it’s everybody in your family has a cell number. And some people have a cell number that’s personal and another one for business.”

Those same pressures are building in the 813 area code, he said, but it wasn’t clear when the PSC would need to act there.

In other action:

The PSC approved a settlement requiring Florida Power & Light Co. to return nearly $27.7 million to ratepayers. The money represents the difference between what the utility charged customers for hurricane response and the amount it spent to repair Hurricane Matthew damage.

The rebate will run around $3 per customer, on average. Large customers had objected to being excluded from settlement talks between FPL and the Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers before the PSC, when the commission first reviewed the agreement in June. But commissioners quickly OK’d the deal Tuesday.

Written By

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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