MediaOne Presses FCC on Numbering

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Washington -- MediaOne Group Inc. wants the Federal
Communications Commission to take action to ensure that it has the phone numbers it needs
to provide competition for local telephone operators.

MediaOne asked the FCC to implement new measures to
alleviate phone-number shortages in high-density area codes.

"The commission must identify and implement certain
short-term and interim measures as quickly as possible to alleviate number-exhaust
situations that are currently preventing new entrants from providing competitive telephone
services to American consumers," MediaOne stated in reply comments filed Aug. 30.

MediaOne has been one of the most aggressive MSOs in terms
of deploying residential phone service. That market also looms large for AT&T Corp.,
which has a pending deal to buy MediaOne.

MediaOne said it has the capacity to enter new markets, but
it lacks the phone numbers needed to accommodate new customers. High-density markets in
California and the Northeast have proven hard to crack, depriving MediaOne of about
291,000 potential customers, the MSO added.

MediaOne asked the FCC to implement
emergency-numbering-resource measures to make numbers available for new entrants while it
develops intermediate and longer-term resource-optimization measures.

According to the MSO's comments, carriers should be
permitted to "port" numbers -- or allow customers to change phone companies
while maintaining the same numbers. Companies should also be required to port unused
numbers to new entrants in high-density areas, it stated.

MediaOne spokeswoman Tina Pyle said new numbers should be
defined by a smaller geographic area, rather than spread throughout a larger area. She
added that splitting numbers according to location was fairer than issuing new area codes
to new-entrant numbers.

But state phone authorities said the overlay system --
which adds new numbers to new area codes -- was less disturbing to current customers.

"The difference is that no one changes their area
code," Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control spokeswoman Beryl Lyons said.
"It is in the public interest to be less disruptive."

However, Pyle also said MediaOne has not been granted
access to numbers in any new or existing area codes. The FCC -- which delegates
number-assignment responsibilities to the state level -- should ease its regulatory role,
she said.

Pyle added that the commission needs to change the way
telephone numbers are assigned to companies. In the past, numbers have been assigned in
blocks of 10,000, she said.

"Instead of giving out huge chunks of numbers, give
them out in smaller blocks so they can be used more efficiently," she said, adding
that she wants to see numbers issued in groups of 1,000.

Pyle said MediaOne is also seeking laws that would require
companies to prove that they are using all of the numbers assigned to them in current area
codes.

States News Service.

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