Local area codes could see change or overlay by 2014

The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) has opened proceedings this month which will lead to the creation of a new area code in western Kentucky, which will be applied to all, or a portion of, the current 270 area code.

In August, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) notified PSC area code 270 was projected to run out of available numbers by the first quarter of 2014.

Two options have been suggested: an overlay, which would create a second area code – 364 – in the same territory now covered by area code 270. Or the second option is a split, which would assign area code 364 to a portion of the current area code 270 territories.

An overlay would permit retention of all current 270 numbers, but would require 10-digit dialing for local calls.

A split would retain seven-digit dialing for local calls, but would require both wireless and landline customers within about half the current area code to change their phone numbers.

“We hope that both residential and business phone customers will evaluate how these options might affect them,” PSC Chairman David Armstrong said. “We also hope they take the time to share their views with the PSC.”

The PSC has conducted public meetings throughout the area code 270 territory throughout October in an effort to provide information to the public and to receive public comment.

Andrew Melnykovych, director of communications of the PCS, said there was no public meeting scheduled in Murray at the time, but the PCS office has discussed having a meeting with the local chamber of commerce. He said the area code change recommended years ago fell short and this time it was happening.

The need for a new code has arisen because there are no longer enough blocks of new numbers to distribute to telecommunication providers.

“This time there is no alternative option,” he said. “There is a shortage of available numbers and it will run out in the next few years.”

This is the second time in six years the PSC has addressed a projected number shortage in area code 270. A similar proceeding was initiated in July 2006, but ended with the PSC rescinding the decision, leaving the area code 270 as is.

Melnykovych said the PSC proposed a change the way phone numbers were sold to telecommunication providers a few years ago.

He said selling numbers in smaller blocks would create fewer wasted numbers.

Numbers are sold in 10,000 and 100,000 blocks currently and the new proposal is to make those blocks of numbers smaller. He said it is a possibility they will be sold at 1,000 or 500 per block.

Written by Chris Wilcox, News Editor.