CARMEL, Ind. (October 1, 2014) - The 317 area code is running out of available phone numbers. They could run out completely by 2017, unless a new area code is added in central Indiana.
As a result, representatives of the telecommunications industry have filed a request with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to add a new area code. The proposal would use the all services overlay method, meaning the new area code would be superimposed over the existing 317 area.
The new area code would only be assigned to new customers and devices. Existing customers and businesses would be able to keep their current 317 phone numbers.
However, under the proposal, all calls would eventually require dialing the area code plus the seven digit phone number. There would likely be a six month grace period at the beginning of implementation that would allow customers to call someone using either the seven or ten digit number. Eventually, they would be prompted to use all ten digits. Calls that were free before would remain free.
Contacts in cell phones, medical devices and security alarms would also need to be updated to include areas codes.
The commission is expected to rule on the issue in 2015. It would then take the industry about 13 months to implement, meaning changes could be expected in 2016.
In southern Indiana, the overlay method is being used to add the 930 area code to the existing 812 area code.
The other option, geographic split, would divide the area into two sections and assign each a different area code. That means many people would be required to change their existing phone numbers. Businesses would also be required to change advertisements and branding that included their former area code. For those reasons, officials with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor say geographic split method has not been used since 2008.
Public comments are being accepted through the Ondiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor until December 29, 2014. For more information on how to submit a comment in person, in writing, by email or by fax, visit www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm.
Three additional public hearings are also scheduled.