The Idaho Public Utilities Commission announced the state’s second area code Monday. Rather than split the state geographically, new phone numbers will be assigned the new area code.
Both options have tradeoffs, but not splitting the state means businesses won’t have to change their stationery and marketing materials, and there’s less inconvenience for existing phone customers. Every state that has added an extra area code in the past eight years has made the same call.
The proliferation of cellphones, phone companies, voice-over-Internet, and paging and messaging services has meant Idaho will run out of 208 phone numbers.
Idaho has had the 208 code since 1947. It’s one of 12 states small enough to have one area code, although five other states are weighing proposals to add a second area code.
Originally, Neustar — the company that administers the nation’s numbering plan — expected Idaho to run out of 208-prefix numbers in fall 2003, and again warned of the change in mid-2010. But state regulators adopted phone number conservation plans that delayed the need for a second prefix.