Legislation that would require better management of telephone numbers by telephone companies so that area code splits and overlays could be delayed was approved by the State Assembly Thursday, May 26th.

The legislation — Assembly Bill (AB) 1380, also known as the Area Code Conservation and Consumer Protection Act — was introduced by local Assemblymember Mike Gordon and was approved by the Assembly in a 42 to 33 vote.

The legislation now advances to the State Senate.

“It was no easy task to gain approval of AB 1380 by the Assembly, due to the strong opposition from the telephone carriers,” Gordon said.

“This is much needed legislation to ensure California’s telephone number resources are properly managed and used in the most efficient manner possible,” he said.

The bill would establish guidelines for telephone companies to follow when companies determine how many phone numbers they have in their inventories.

Companies would have to return or donate surplus phone numbers after six months if the numbers have not been assigned.

“The lack of specific regulation in this area has led to a situation where the carriers have too much control over how much number resources are managed,” Gordon said.

Currently, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) relies on reports from the telephone industry when determining whether or not sufficient phone numbers exist in an area code.

Although the industry is regulated by the CPUC, there is no objective or independent review of the reports, Gordon claims.

As a result of industry reports, the telephone industry projects that six area codes in the state will run out of phone numbers by 2008.

Area codes that telephone companies say should be split or overlaid include area codes 310, 714, 760, 818, 408 and 415.

By implementing the inventory guidelines proposed in the Assembly Bill, the life of an area code can be extended, Gordon said.

“Oversight and inventory guidelines are critical to ensure that area codes are split only as a last resort,” Gordon said.