Area code overlay OK'd
Dec 18, 2012 (Messenger-Inquirer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Get ready to dial 10 digits when you make a local phone call starting in 2014 and 11 when you make a long distance call.
We're currently dialing seven digits for local calls and 11 for long distance.
But beginning Feb. 1, 2014, the area code will be required for all calls -- even those to the house next door.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission announced Monday that it will create a new area code -- 364 -- in western Kentucky on Feb. 1, 2014.
But the agency decided to overlay the new area code on the same geographical area as the current area code -- 270.
That means no existing phone numbers will change.
But every call will have to be dialed with the area code.
That was the choice of the majority of the people who wrote the PSC -- 168 of 203 comments.
The 270 area code was created in 1999 by splitting the old 502 area code. The 502 code remained in the Louisville and Frankfort area with the western part of the state becoming 270.
It was 1994 when people in western Kentucky had to dial the area code when calling another number within the same area code.
Andrew Melnykovych, director of communications for the PSC, said even though houses on the same block may have different area codes in the future, people won't be charged a long-distance fee for calling them.
"Anything that's a local call now will remain a local call," he said. "And anything that's now a long-distance call will remain a long-distance call."
"This decision means that everyone who now has an area code 270 phone number can keep that number," PSC Chairman David Armstrong said in a news release. "The only thing that will change is that 10-digit dialing will be required for local calls beginning in early 2014."
With more than a year until final implementation, there will be plenty of time for people to become familiar with the new dialing rules, Armstrong said.
"Public opinion has shifted dramatically in the six years since the PSC last considered this matter," he said. "It appears that the public is much less concerned about 10-digit dialing than about the possibility of having to change phone numbers."
The news release said comments from the business community said that splitting western Kentucky for a new area code would force businesses in the area with the new code to change printed materials, signage and anything else bearing their phone number.
Overlays pose the "fewest technical issues for implementation by an increasing complex telecommunication industry," the PSC said.
The agency said overlays have been used for all but one -- in New Mexico -- of the last 24 area codes created nationwide.
"The need for a new area code is driven largely by demand for new numbers associated with wireless devices, but also is suggestive of increasing economic activity," Armstrong said. "As such, it is a positive development."
People will be able to start using 10-digit dialing on Aug. 3, 2013, to get used to it.
The PSC said the first numbers using area code 364 may be assigned beginning March 3, 2014. Area code 270 numbers can be assigned after that date, but their availability will depend on how many remain in the inventory of each individual service provider, the agency said.
The PSC has been studying the need for a new area code in western Kentucky since 2001
Keith Lawrence, 691-7301, firstname.lastname@example.org
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