Mathematically, area codes have a natural shelf life. In America, each unique area code yields about eight million new phone numbers, which is all that Greater Cincinnati has needed from the time area codes were officially introduced by AT&T back in 1947 up to this year.
But now, “the 513 area code that serves most of southwestern Ohio and the Greater Cincinnati area is literally running out of phone numbers,” Schilling said.
In this case, and in all cases over the past 15 years, PUCO has opted to go with a simple “overlay” approach, which Schilling described as “simply taking a brand new area code and sticking it right on top of the existing area code geographically.”
Schilling said adding 283 to the mix as an overlay area code will only affect folks getting brand new numbers, and won’t have any impact on existing 513 numbers.
“When the 513 area code does run out of numbers, which is expected to happen this year, and you go to sign up for new phone service and you live in that 513 area code area, you’re going to get a phone number with a new area code (283) instead of 513,” Schilling said.
PUCO has opted for more disruptive solutions in the past, including a “geographic split” in the Cleveland area in the 1997 which forced many folks in northeast Ohio with the 216 area code to get new phone numbers with the then newly introduced 440 area code.
“That just hasn’t been popular, so the commission has stayed away from that,” Schilling said. The Greater Cincinnati area will be the sixth region in the state to introduce an overlay area code.
Schilling noted that not every new local number administered after the April 28 deadline will have a 283 number, at least not immediately.
Schilling explained that a continental regulator allots telecom companies like Verizon or T-Mobile 10,000 phone numbers at a time to dole out to their customers. Those companies are required to finish those 10,000 phone numbers before receiving a new chunk from the regulator, and it’s possible that telecom companies will have to dip into the 283 pool at different times.