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Re: Toll Free Service Access Codes, CC Docket No. 95-155.
While I agree with many aspects of the majority's decision regarding the assignment of toll free vanity numbers, I dissent from the Commission's conclusion that vanity numbers in the 877 toll free code and all future toll free codes should be assigned on a first-come, first served basis as each code is open for calling. Because vanity numbers are easily recognizable by consumers, many subscribers to 800 toll free numbers have invested substantial resources in advertising to develop an association with particular products or services. When the deployment of the 888 toll- free code approached, holders of 800 vanity numbers expressed concern about consumer confusion, misdials, and erosion of their trademarks, and wanted to obtain the corresponding number in the 888 toll-free code. As a result, the Common Carrier Bureau ordered those numbers in the 888 toll-free code in which 800 subscribers expressed an interest be set-aside in an "unavailable pool" of numbers.

While today's decision continues to hold as unavailable those numbers previously set- aside, the majority also decides to forgo any future set-asides. I am concerned that this decision does not provide an adequate protection for those entities that have already invested heavily in the marketing of their toll free vanity numbers, and may discourage others from investing similarly in the future. In addition, these adverse impacts on the market are only compounded by the Commission's anti-brokering rules which currently prohibit the buying and selling of numbers. Thus, the Commission's own regulations prohibit the free market from resolving these concerns.

As opposed to the first-come, first-served approach adopted today, I would have preferred any one of several options. The Commission could have extended a right of first refusal -- possibly accompanied by a substantial industry-based fee -- to holders of vanity numbers. To respond to any additional concerns about number exhaust, a variety of creative solutions were proposed to limit the number of incumbent subscribers. For example, the Commission could have limited the ability to reserve vanity numbers to those holders that have already set-aside their 800 vanity numbers in the 888 code. Only 375,000 of the possible 8 million numbers were set-aside in the 888 code, and most of the 800 subscribers that had invested heavily in the marketing of a particular vanity number were able to reserve those numbers in the 888 code. In contrast, holders of new vanity numbers in the 877 and subsequent codes would then be on notice that their marketing investments would not be protected in the same manner. In addition, while the New England 800 partitioning proposal would require the Commission to revisit its numbering scheme in general, I believe that this proposal has some merit.

In conclusion, I believe that the Commission should have acted to further protect those entities that have an established commercial investment in toll free vanity numbers beyond the 888 toll code, and thus regretfully Dissent form that part of today's Order.