Updated Thu, Nov 7, 2013 3:21 pm
UPDATE 3:13 p.m. Dialing your neighbor in Southeast Ohio and parts of Central Ohio may soon require three additional digits.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio started the process Wednesday morning that will eventually lead to a new area code being created for those currently in the 740 area code region.
The North American Numbering Plan Administrator notified the PUCO earlier this year that 740 area code numbers would be used up by the second quarter of 2015.
According to Jason Gilham, deputy director of public affairs at PUCO, an increase in cell phone usage and business development is the reason there will be no available numbers under the 740 area code in 2015.
“A lot of the exhaustion is because of machine communications,” Gilham said, “Anytime you’re using your credit card at a gas pump, there’s a telephone number assigned to that. That’s where a large part of these numbers are getting eaten up.”
The PUCO is considering two different options. The first scenario would create an overlay. This would allow all residents to keep their current phone number but require dialing all 10 digits in a phone number. Any new phone numbers issued would have the new area code.
The second scenario would create a split. True to its name, the split scenario would divide the geographical area in two sections with one section keeping the 740 area code and existing numbers while the other area would receive new numbers with the new area code. Those in each area would still only have to dial 7 digits when making a local phone call however.
The split wouldn’t affect just homeowners, but businesses as well.
“If an area would be split, those businesses that fall under a new area code, there would certainly be costs involved with that,” Gilham said, mentioning business cards, letterhead, and signage as just a few examples. “When it comes to an overlay, there shouldn’t be any cost when it comes to that.”
PUCO Chairman Todd A. Snitchler released a statement encouraging those in the 740 area code to submit comments on the two options.
“Through a consumer survey on our website, individuals can vote on their preference on an overlay or split option for the 740 area code and provide comments that will be part of the official record in this case. We want to hear from those who will be affected,” Snitchler said.
No matter which scenario is chosen, there is a 13 month implementation period so the commission is looking to make a decision within the next few months.
Nearly 150 letters from residents have already been submitted in favor of the overlay, as oppose to just 81 in favor of the split.
Public commentary will be taken until November 27th.
Parts of southeastern Ohio will be getting a new area code soon.
There aren't enough numbers in the current 740 area code to accommodate the demand, so state utility regulators say they're preparing to introduce a new code by early 2015.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is now asking people for input on how the new code is added. The actual code hasn't been released yet.
The state is looking at two options: letting those with the 740 code keep their numbers and assigning the new code to new customers, or just splitting the area in half.
The public will have until Nov. 27 to comment.
The 740 area code now is used in most of southeastern Ohio and some areas around Columbus.