Public Input Sought for New Area Code

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Dialing your neighbor in Southeast and parts of Central Ohio may soon become more difficult.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio opened a proceeding 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 what lead to the exhaustion.

“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 has determined there are two viable options that they have taken under consideration  considered. 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 retaining the 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 commentary on the issue.

“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.