Indianapolis running out of phone numbers; hearings set for 317 solution

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By Lindy Thackston

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 24, 2014) – The Indianapolis area is running out of phone numbers.

Indy residents will soon see another area code other than 317. According to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, the area will run out of phone numbers by 2017 unless new area codes are added. The telecommunications industry has petitioned for a change.

Three different solutions are being proposed. Customers who already have phone numbers with 317 area codes would be able to keep them. Ten-digit calling (area code + seven-digit phone number) would eventually become the norm.

“I think it’ll be a good idea," said Thomas Johnson. "The city is growing and with a growing population like the city has right now, I think it’s very much of a need. And being around other cities that have several area codes, I think it’s going to be a really big help for us, too."

“I mean I think what other option do you have really?" said Emily Robbins. "The city is growing and there’s not enough numbers left so we have to have another option. I just moved here from Bloomington and everybody down there was able to and I got used to it, so you’ll learn.”

“I think it’s good," said Tearies Smith. "The way the technology is set up now, I don’t think people remember numbers. I think it’s just stored in our phone and we just go to a name and click the name and to call. So I don’ think it’s a big deal.”

The 317 area code is one of the original two area codes established in Indiana in 1947, along with 812, when area codes were created. The geographic area served by 317 has been split twice; currently, it serves customers in Marion, Hamilton, Hancock, Shelby, Johnson, Hendricks, and Morgan counties as well as those in parts of Brown, Rush, Madison, Tipton, Clinton, Boone and Putnam counties.

Population growth and the rise of wireless phones are primary factors behind the change.

Here are the options:

1. All Services Distributed Overlay - An all-services overlay would add a new area code to the entire 317 territory, allowing existing customers to retain their current phone numbers but would require customers to use 10-digit dialing on all calls.

2. Concentrated Overlay (Indianapolis rate center) - A new area code overlay would be assigned to only the Indianapolis rate center (central portion of Marion County). Customers in this area would be required to use 10-digit dialing and new numbers assigned in this area would use a new area code. Customers outside of the overlay area would keep their phone numbers and would continue to use 7-digit dialing until the remaining 317 area codes exhaust. The overlay would then be extended to all rate centers in the current 317 service area. The projected time before the need for expansion of the overlay is 6.3 years. The projected life of the area code, including after the overlay is expanded to cover the 317 area, is 49 years.

3. Concentrated Overlay (Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Oaklandon, Cumberland, Acton, Greenwood, West Newton, Plainfield, Brownsburg, and Zionsville rate centers--all centers in or partly in Marion County) - In this scenario, customers in the above-listed rate centers would be required to use 10-digit dialing. New phone numbers would be assigned the new area code in the concentrated overlay area. The projected time before the need for expansion of the overlay is 18.4 years. The projected life of the area code, including after the overlay is expanded to cover the entire 317 area, is also 49 years.

The commission will hold a series of hearings starting this week:

  • Sept. 26, 2014, 10:00 a.m. - PNC Center, 101 W. Washington Street, Room 224, Indianapolis, IN 46204
    (This hearing is scheduled during business hours to accommodate business representatives to attend on behalf of their company. All members of the business community and general public are welcome to attend.)
  • Oct. 1, 2014, 6 p.m - Carmel Clay School District Office, Board Room, 5201 E. Main Street, Carmel, IN 46033.
  • Oct. 14, 2014, 6 p.m. - Franklin College Student Center, Branigin Room, 101 Branigin Boulevard, Franklin, IN 46131.
  • Oct. 29, 2014, 6 p.m. - Danville High School Auditorium, 100 Warrior Way, Danville, IN 46122.
  • Dec. 1, 2014, 6 p.m. - Greenfield City Hall, Council Chambers, 10 S. State Street, Greenfield, IN 46140.

Those who attend will be able to make their case for a particular method, and all comments will be included in the official case record. All field hearings are open to the public.

If you can’t make it to one of those, you can submit a written comment at the website for the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor.

You can also do so by mail, email, or fax:

Mail:

Consumer Services Staff Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St.
Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Email:

uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov

Fax:

(317) 232-5923

Written comments must be received by Dec. 29, 2014. They’ll be filed with the commission and included in the official record. Anyone with questions can call the OUCC's consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.