Number shortage projected for late 2007
With area code 270 projected to run out of available phone numbers in late 2007, the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) has opened a proceeding to determine how to create a new area code in the western half of the state.
The North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), which is responsible for allocating phone numbers to telecommunication providers, issued a notice that the pool of available numbers will be exhausted in the fourth quarter of next year on Aug. 31.
Earlier this year, NANPA had projected that the area code 270 number pool would last into the first quarter of 2009. However, rapid growth in the area and the increased need for new phone numbers necessitated a revision of the initial projections.
On July 19, the PSC opened a case to examine the options for area code 270 after receiving new information from NANPA. A procedural schedule for the case has not yet been established, but it will include public meetings and other opportunities for residents of area code 270 to make their wishes known to the PSC.
New area codes may be established in one of two ways.
- Historically, Kentucky has chosen to split exisiting area codes geographicaly. Area code 270, which covers the western half of Kentucky, was created from a portion of area code 502 in April 1999 and area code 859 was carved out of area code 606 a year later.
- A new area code may also be created to overlay an existing area code. This option, used mostly in major metropolitan areas, requires 10-digit dialing for local calls.
Although an area code may, in theory, include as many as 10 million phone numbers, there are actually far fewer numbers available for use. Certain sequences of numbers are not used. Remaining numbers are allocated to telecommunication companies in groups of 10,000 known as NXX codes, or groups of 1,000 known as NXX-X blocks. Number exhaustion occurs when there are no NXX codes or NXX-X blocks remaining.
The notice from NANPA triggered interim procedures, including the rationing of new NXX codes, that are intended to delay number exhaustion in area code 270 until a decision is made on a new area code. The interim procedures will remain in place until a longer-term relief plan is developed.
PSC Chairman Mark David Goss said the commission is committed to an open process as it considers the creation of Kentucky’s fifth area code.
“We want to hear from the telecommunication industry, from businesses that might be affected by the change, and from area code 270 residents,” he said. “We fully recognize that the decision we make will have a significant impact on the economy and on people’s daily lives.
“To make the best decision for Kentucky, we will need a full understanding of the issues,” Goss said. “That is why we will actively seek public input."
Documents pertaining to the area code 270 case may be found online at www.psc.ky.gov by referencing case number 2006-00357.
The PSC is an agency within the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet. It regulates more than 1,500 gas, water, sewer, electric and telecommunication utilities operating in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and has approximately 110 employees.