SAN FRANCISCO - The easy-to-remember ''Popcorn'' phone number, which gives California callers the correct time, may be eliminated to make room for more phone numbers in Northern California, state regulators said.
The California Public Utilities Commission wants the 767 prefix numbers to alleviate the need for more area codes in the state.
Currently, dialing 767 followed by any four numbers gives the caller an automated voice that tells the time. Dialing Popcorn (767-2676) works as well as dialing Poptart or Poprock.
Discontinuing Popcorn would free up some 10,000 phone numbers.
Charles Carbone of the Utility Consumers' Action Network told the San Francisco Chronicle that eliminating Popcorn might not be the best solution for the state's phone number crunch, but it's still preferable to other solutions.
''It is certainly a lot better than the massive disruption of an area code split or overlay,'' Carbone said.
Canceling Popcorn would mean those people with newly assigned 767 numbers may get misdials from callers seeking the correct time.
''Is it worth the risk of having a bunch of errant misdialed calls?'' asked Pacific Bell spokesman John Britton.
Other prefixes are also set aside for special use. The 936 prefix is reserved for a weather hotline in the 415 area code. In San Jose's 408 area code, the 554 prefix is also set aside for weather information. The California Public Utilities Commission is requesting comment by April 6 on the proposal to eliminate Popcorn.