In the not to distant future folks making calls locally will have to dial 10 digits to make any phone call, even for calls in the same neighborhood.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission recently approved a new area code overlay for the region currently covered by the 336 area code.
According to the commission the new area code, 743, will be rolled out in the next two to three years as the number of available numbers starting with 336 begin to run out.
“Neustar, serving as the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, forecasted that without area code relief, numbering resources for new accounts in the 336 area will be exhausted by the third quarter of 2016,” said Bridget Paschal, as spokeswoman for the North Carolina Utilities Commission.
People who currently use the 336 area code will be able to keep that area code, but once the new area code is fully implemented all calls will require callers to dial the full 10-digit number including the area code.
“Because an overlay means that the 336 dialing area will have two different area codes, the Federal Communications Commission requires use of 10-digit dialing for all local calls into, out of, and within the area,” said Paschal. “However, there will be no change in the cost to consumers for local calls.”
She said a schedule of when the changes will be implemented will be filled by Sept. 15.
“That implementation schedule will set out the dates for permissive dialing, wherein people will be able to dial using 7 or 10 digits, and mandatory dialing, the date when all calls will need to be made using 10 digits,” said Paschal. “The actual date that the new area code will start being assigned will depend on how quickly the numbers in the 336 area code are completely exhausted, which may be some months after the actual complete implementation date of the new area code. The current forecast is that 336 will exhaust in the third quarter of 2016 so the implementation date will be before then, but, again, we do not know the actual date right now.”
Each telecommunications carrier service will be assigned a supply of numbers by the Numbering Plan Administrator.
“When a carrier is out of numbers in 336, they will begin to receive numbers from the 743 area code and will start to assign those numbers,” said Paschal.
Numbers stored in cellphone contact lists that only have seven digits will have to be updated to include the area code for the call to go through.
“With the prevalence of overlays in the country, I would think there would be an app available, but I am not sure,” said Paschal.
Area code overlays have already been implemented in the Raleigh and Charlotte regions, and Paschal said that process went smoothly.
“In Raleigh, the 10 digit dialing with a current 919 area code did result in many dis-dials to 911,” she said. “To resolve that problem, the commission specified in its Aug.13, 2014 order that the new area code for 336 could not begin with “9-1” in order to avoid that problem in the 336 overlay. It has been assigned 743 so that problem will not occur.
“In addition, there will be significant customer education efforts by the telecommunications carriers in 336 to help customers transition to the new 10 digit dialing pattern and to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible,” she added.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.