Alabama may be adding another area code. Here's why:
The Alabama Public Service Commission recently approved the addition of the 659 area code to the western central part of the state. The new area code will overlay - as in cover the existing counties - served by the 205 area code.
I live in 205, so this means....
Users who currently have a 205 area code won't have to change numbers. Once the new area code is in use, however, they will have to dial a 10-digit number including the area code to place a call.
No information on exactly which counties or cities will be covered has been released. And there's no timeframe for when the area code will go into effect. Neustar Inc., the Numbering Plan Administrator for the Federal Communications Commission, is working to with the telecommunication industries to implement the code.
The final split of the area - if it occurs - must be approved by the Alabama Public Service Commission.
Area code overlay
The 659 area code is what's known as an "overlay." An overlay occurs when more than one area code serves the same geographic region. With an overlay, all current customers keep their area code and telephone numbers but numbers from the second area code may be assigned to new customers or those adding additional lines. Because two codes reside in the same geography, all dialers must use the area code plus seven digits.
Why are area codes added?
Area codes are added when current numbers are exhausted.
In North America, each area code has a potential capacity of around 8 million unique phone numbers. The increased use of cellular phones, modems and internet access can strain existing telephone number resources, necessitating additional area codes, according to Neustar.
Once the new area code starts being assigned, there's generally a period of six months of transition where customers are encouraged but not required to use the new code but seven-digit dialing is allowed. After six months, callers are required to use the appropriate area code plus the telephone number.
History of Alabama's area code
Alabama used to have one area code - 205 - that was established in 1947. That existed until 1995 when 334 was added to cover the southeast part of the state. The 256 area code for north Alabama was added in 1998, with an overlay of 938 added in 2010, the same year 10-digit dialing began in the area.
It is a natural process that accompanies the growth of the population in North America. And the same code change is happening in every country when cities and towns are growing. It is an inevitable thing. For example, the population in Toronto is increasing every year. And every few years new codes are being added. But people know where to check for the most recent ones. And all works well.
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