Your next phone number might not start with 208

BOISE STATE PUBLIC RADIOAugust 13, 2013 

In less than a decade, Idaho will likely join the ranks of states with more than one area code.

This isn’t a new story. Back in 2007, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission said the state would run out of 208 phone numbers within five years. That’s when number conservation and consolidation kicked in. The number of phone numbers available expanded when the state changed the way it assigns them.

Today, there are about 3.4 million 208 numbers assigned to Idaho.

According to the North American Numbering Plan, Idaho has about 820,000 208 telephone numbers available.

The change could be a tough sell for lifelong Idahoans. “People love their phone numbers,” says Carolee Hall, the PUC’s self-described number cop.

Hall says the most popular, or diplomatic, way to handle the transition would be to deploy an area code overlay. That means new Idahoans would get the new area code. Veteran Idahoans would stay with 208.

In 2007, Hall says many local businesses rejected the other option: a geographic overlay. That would have meant everyone in the Boise area would keep the 208 area code while the rest of the state would switch to a new area code.

Businesses didn’t want to change their signs, advertising, and printed material to reflect a new phone number.

More than one area code in a state also means a switch to 10-digit dialing. Idaho is one of about a dozen states with just one area code.

EmilieRitter@boisestate.edu

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