New Idaho area code proposed

Idaho will run out of 208-prefix phone numbers in about two years, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission announced Tuesday.

An agency that contracts with the federal government to administer the nation’s area code numbering plan recently informed Idaho officials and telecommunications providers that the 208 area code is projected to run out of available numbers in mid-2018. The proliferation of wireless telephones, new competitive telephone companies, paging and messaging and other services is contributing to the increase in demand for new telephone numbers, according to the PUC news release.

Idaho’s telecommunications providers are asking the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to begin a 16-month implementation period for a second area code. There is no cost to customers, the PUC states.

The telecommunications providers recommend that the commission implement a “geographic overlay” of the new area code as opposed to a “geographic split.”

The geographic overlay would superimpose the new area code over the entire state, but assign it only to new numbers. All existing customers would retain their 208 area code with only new numbers assigned the new area code. However, all customers would be required to begin 10-digit dialing for all calls, which would include the area code, prefix and four-digit number.

The geographic split would divide the state into two territories with the new area code assigned to one of the two regions, to be determined later. Under this option, residents in the section assigned the new area code who do not want long distance or roaming charges would have to change their telephone numbers. Under this option, 10-digit dialing is not required for calls within the same area code. This option hasn’t been used in the U.S. in at least 10 years, according to the PUC.

The PUC plans to proceed in this case using written comments for now, and will take comments on the application through Oct. 6. It may later schedule customer workshops or hearings, the release states.

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 the PUC adopted conservation plans that delayed the need for a second prefix.

Only 12 states still have just one area code, according to the PUC, which cited information from the North American Plan Numbering Administrator. Six of those have proposed adding a second area code, also including Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

To comment by Oct. 6, visit this link, fill in the case number (GNR-T-15-06) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.