With 207 area code endangered, Maine PUC probes T-Mobile's numbering practices

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Jul. 13—In a case aimed at preserving Maine's single 207 area code, the Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday opened an investigation into the number forecasting practices of T-Mobile.

"This case is part of our ongoing effort to extend the life of Maine's single 207 area code," said PUC Chair Philip Bartlett. "Last year we opened a case to look into the numbering practices of Verizon Wireless, and we are now doing the same with T-Mobile, as they may also be using unrealistic forecasting goals, unnecessarily tying up available phone numbers."

The PUC had previously ordered Verizon and other phone companies to return unused blocks of 207 numbers to the commission so they can be reallocated. Carriers request large blocks of numbers when they move into a new area, but not all of them are used, the PUC said.

According to the most recent North American Numbering Plan Administrator update in June 2022, the 207 area code is predicted to exhaust in the fourth quarter of 2025.

The PUC has been monitoring the numbering forecasts of all providers utilizing Maine's numbering resources to determine whether forecasts are adequately matching market demand.

Based on a review of number resource requests from T-Mobile from January 2021 through April 2022, the commission is questioning T-Mobile's forecasting process for numbering resources and the rate at which old numbers are returned to the system as part of the "aging" process.

The investigation directs T-Mobile to provide detailed information including an explanation of how the company forecasts growth in Maine, the utilization percentage of numbers used in the areas it serves, and an explanation of why the company is using a high number of special numbering categories that may unnecessarily increase the need for more numbers to be pulled from the 207 numbering pool.

T-Mobile is a nationwide wireless carrier that merged with Sprint in 2020. An email to the company's media relations office went unanswered Wednesday, and the company doesn't publish a phone number for media inquiries.