Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Are 208's days numbered?

Here's a trivia question for you: How many states still have only one area code?

I'll give the answer at the end of this post. But it's on my mind because the Idaho Statesman reported today that Idaho might run out of numbers in its single area code by 2010. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission hopes to stave off the inevitable by reducing the size of number blocks it allocates to cell phone companies from 10,000 numbers per block to 1,000. As the PUC's press release says:

This is the second time Idaho has been able to delay another area code. In August of 2001, the FCC projected Idaho’s area code would exhaust in the fall of 2003. In 2002, the commission ordered Boise area telecommunications providers to return numbers not in use and then receive new numbers only in 1,000-number blocks as needed. Today’s order expands number pooling to include the entire state. Not required to participate are rural providers that do not have local number portability or rural companies that do not have a competitive landline or wireless provider. Pagers, because they do not have local number portability, are also not mandated to participate. However, the commission is strongly encouraging paging companies to participate on a voluntary basis.

When the day of reckoning finally comes, would you rather see one area of the state (probably southwest Idaho, due to its population heft) keep 208? Or would it be more fair to allow current 208 users statewide to keep their numbers while assigning the new area code to new numbers, no matter where in the state they are?

How many states still have only one area code? The answer is 14, plus the District of Columbia.

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