HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today approved a plan to split the 814 area code along geographic boundaries to avoid running out of phone numbers, creating a new area code for customers in portions of northwestern Pennsylvania.
The Commission voted 5-0 to split the area code along rate center boundaries. The new area code will be applied to Jefferson, Elk and McKean counties and west. The boundary runs in a north/south direction east of the rate centers Shinglehouse, Wilcox, Kersey, Dubois and Sykesville. Maps showing the county split and the rate center split are available on the Commission’s website.
On June 9, 2009, Neustar petitioned the PUC for area code relief. Because of concerns over the disruptions changes to area codes can cause, the PUC held a comment period, followed by public input hearings. During that process, the PUC received significant input from the public supporting a geographic split.
In light of that public feedback, the Commission said the geographic split for the 814 area code created less inconveniences than an overlay. Because of the geographic size of the 814 area code and the location of population centers, the Commission said the geographic split was more practical for the 814 area code.
With the geographic split, consumers may continue to dial seven digits for local calling. The other option available to the Commission – an overlay – would have covered the entire 814 area code with a new area code and required 10-digit dialing throughout a large geographic area in Pennsylvania.
The 814 area code is projected to run out of telephone numbers in the first quarter of 2013. New area codes are needed when existing area codes exhaust their supply of “NXX” codes (which is the second set of three digits in a 10-digit telephone number, NPA-NXX-XXXX). Of the original four Pennsylvania area codes, the 814 area code was only one to remain unchanged. With the split, Pennsylvania now will have 11 area codes – 412/878, 570, 610/484, 814, 724/878, 717 and 215/267.
The actual new number for the new area code will be determined in the coming weeks by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA), which is the neutral third party area code relief planner for Pennsylvania.
The new area code will be implemented Feb. 1, 2012. The Commission will continue to closely monitor phone number demand in the 814 area code to determine whether the implementation timeline meets the needs within the area code.
When introducing a new area code, a permissive dialing period of about six months is allowed while customers adjust to the change. During this time, customers may reach numbers in the new area code by either dialing 814 or the new area code. Even with permissive dialing, customers are encouraged to use the correct dialing. Once the permissive dialing period has ended, customers will receive a recorded message telling them to hang up and redial the numbers using the new area code.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities to ensure safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protect the public interest; educate consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; further economic development; and foster new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
For recent news releases, audio of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.state.pa.us.
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Docket No. P-2009-2112925