Case 16-C-0297: New 838 Area Code



Several years ago, Neustar, the entity designated by the Federal Communications Commission to administer area codes throughout the U.S., determined that the 315 area code could run out of assignable telephone numbers. The 315 area code serves all or part of 18 counties in Central New York.

The New York State Public Service Commission (Commission) instituted a proceeding to develop a plan that provides long-term area code relief while minimizing disruption to consumers and businesses in the area. In July 2015, the Commission determined that the best way to meet demand for new telephone numbers in the region and minimize customer impact was to overlay a new area code over the existing area code.

The Commission has prepared the following questions and answers to help people learn about area codes and the implementation of a new area code in Central New York.





Background Information on Area Codes
    Q. What is the purpose of area codes?
    A.Three-digit area codes were developed in 1947 to provide a uniform numbering system to permit people to make long distance calls without going through an operator. The North American Numbering Plan is a dialing plan, serving 20 North American countries, which allows point-to-point direct dialing between any two users in the world without operator assistance.

    Q. Why do area codes run out of telephone numbers?
    A. There is a limit to the number of telephone numbers available within an area code. Each telephone line is assigned a ten-digit number made up of a three-digit area code, a three-digit central office code and a four-digit station number. With increased telephone competition and the tremendous increase in the use of cell phones, second lines, and fax machines, the need for new telephone numbers has accelerated in many areas in the State.
    Q. What is the Commission’s role?
    A. After receiving recommendations from the telecommunications industry, the Staff of the Department of Public Service (Staff) conducts an extensive review in which all interested residents, businesses and local organizations have the opportunity to comment on the options for introducing a new area code. The Commission subsequently determines the best way to introduce a new area code to a region with the least possible disruption to customers. For the 315 region, the Commission determined that an overlay would be the best option for area code relief.

    Area Code Relief
      Q. What is an overlay?
      A. An overlay is when a new area code is superimposed on the existing region with the result that two different area codes would serve the same geographic region. In this case, the existing region is the 18 counties currently served by the 315 area code, including all or parts of Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Fulton, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Oswego, Otsego, Seneca, St. Lawrence, Wayne and Yates. This area will now be served by 315 and the new 680 area code.

      Q. How does it work?
      A. With the overlay, all current customers (wireline or wireless) within the region keep the 315 area code and seven digit number already assigned to them. New telecommunication services will be assigned a new seven digit number with either a 680 or 315 area code.
        Once the overlay is established, all calls made within the 315/680 region will require ten digit dialing. This means that the three digit area code plus the seven digit number will always have to be dialed when making a call within or between 315 and 680 area codes. Calls to numbers outside of the 315/680 area codes will require a 1 in front of the ten digit number.

      Q. How will the new area code be implemented?
      A. The new area code will be introduced in phases.
        · March 12, 2016: An eleven month permissive dialing period is established to allow people time to get used to the new ten digit dialing pattern. During the permissive dialing period, calls using either seven digits or ten digits (area code plus seven digit number) will be allowed.
          · February 11, 2017: A mandatory dialing phase begins at the end of the permissive dialing phase. At this point, callers must use the new dialing pattern to complete calls.
          · March 11, 2017: Carriers may begin assigning telephone numbers with the new area code.

        Q. What will remain the same?
        A. The cost of a call, coverage area, rates and services will not change due to the overlay. In addition, calls to 911 can still be completed with three digits.

        Q. What will customers need to do?
        A. Customer should include the area code when giving their number to friends, family, business associates, etc. Customers should also ensure that equipment set to dial a seven digit number is reprogrammed to include the area code.

        For More Information

        Documents related to the Commission’s decision can be obtained by visiting the Commission’s website, www.dps.ny.gov and entering case number 07-C-1486 in the box labeled “Search for Case/Matter Number.”