by Robert J Wagman
THE PROLIFERATION of technology devices in recent years has led to a phone number shortage in many states, prompting the all-too-rapid creation of new areas codes and subsequent confusion and irritation for businesses and consumers alike. Folks are getting mighty tired of this dance step, but unlike the Macarena, it probably won’t disappear any time soon.
Legislation passed by the California state legislature this summer calls for adoption of “technology-specific” telephone area codes to slow the growth in telephone numbers to lessen the need for new overlay area codes as existing area codes run out of numbers.
The legislation, sponsored by state Senator Debra Bowen (D-Marina del Rey), would require technology devices such as cell phones, pagers, fax machines, automatic teller machines, modems, and the like to be assigned to special area codes, technically called “service-specific overlay codes,” once all numbers in an existing area code have been exhausted.
Right now the state does not have the authority to order the creation of such area codes, but it, and several other states, including Connecticut and Ohio, have asked the Federal Communications Commission for such authority.
Although most land line phone companies oppose the measure — saying it would give preference to wireless phones, the wireless industry is also crying foul, charging that it would disrupt its customers and cause undue hardship for the industry. The FCC will sit this one out for now.