A new area code will be introduced into Ohio in response to the 740’s projected exhaustion in 2015.
The fate of the 740 area code was predicted by the North American Numbering Plan Administration, the organization that oversees all area code relief planning, and was reported to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. PUCO, in response, is responsible for coming up with a program to solve the problem.
Right now, PUCO is choosing between two different strategies, either an overlay or a split plan, to introduce a new area code into southeast Ohio where the current area code services.
The overlay option would assign the unknown area code to any new subscribers in the area while allowing current residents to retain the 740 area code.
“An overlay is just superimposing a new area code over the existing 740 area codes,” PUCO spokesman Jason Gilham said. “It would require everyone in the 750 area code to dial 10 digits.”
In contrast, the split would cut the area into east and west sections, assigning the new code to one undetermined side and letting the other side continue with the current one.
The exhaustion is being driven by an increase in cell phone use and credit card machines, which each have a number assigned to them, according to a Columbus Dispatch article. The growth of Delaware county, both economically and in population, is also a factor in the need for a new area code.
Ohio experienced a series of similar scenarios in 2000 and 2001 when the NANPA predicted that four area codes would become exhausted. While people with 330 and 419 area codes decided to go through with an overlay program, the NANPA actually changed its prediction regarding 614 and 513 area codes so that neither had to integrate new numbers.
While Gilham acknowledges that a similar switch could happen within the 740 area, he said that the commission will continue to work based on the latest information provided for them.
“We’re continuing with this based on what [the NANPA] is telling us for second quarter 2013,” Gilham said. “We definitely realize the time sensitivity to this process.”
Before making the decision, the commission is listening to the opinions of both businesses and the public.
“We’ve heard from the industry side. They’ve already submitted their preference, so now the commission wants to hear from the public side,” Gilham said.
To do this, the public can submit their opinion before Nov. 27 to the Commission by mailing comments to 180 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215 or by visiting www.puco.ohio.gov and clicking on the “740 area code exhaust” link.
“We want to gage people in this process,” Gilham said. “They’re the people who are going to be affected by this so we definitely want to encourage people to get involved.”