Launches Year-Long Education Campaign for May 2021 Startup
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today voted 4-0 to approve a year-long implementation plan leading to the start of a new “overlay” for the current 814 area code, which covers all or parts of 27 counties across Central and Northwestern Pennsylvania. Under the overlay plan approved today, a new area code will be assigned to the same geographic area currently covered by the 814 area code. In the future – when no more 814 telephone numbers are available – telephone numbers from the new area code will be assigned to customers. This preserves existing phone numbers for residents and businesses in the region, while also ensuring that a supply of new numbers will be available for decades to come. “First and foremost, it is important for residents and businesses throughout the 814 area code to understand that there will be no change in their telephone service,” stressed PUC Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille. “The proposal approved by the Commission today ensures that customers currently using 814 telephone numbers will keep their existing numbers, and the PUC is launching a year-long education campaign to help everyone prepare for a second ‘local’ area code in the region.” The PUC notes that the biggest adjustment for residents will be the eventual switch to “10-digit dialing” – where callers will be required to dial the area code plus the seven-digit telephone number for all calls. To help consumers and businesses in the region adjust to the upcoming change, the PUC has approved a timetable to implement the new overlay area code, including the following key dates: · April 30, 2020 – Plan approved / Education efforts begin. · October 1, 2020 – Residents and businesses are encouraged to voluntarily start 10-digit dialing for calls in the 814 area code. · April 1, 2021 – 10-digit dialing will be required for all calls. · May 1, 2021 – The new overlay area code will be placed into service. (New area code numbers will not be assigned until available 814 numbers are exhausted) Between now and the Spring of 2021, the PUC will work with consumers, business, community leaders, legislators and others across the region to help everyone prepare for the arrival of the new area code. The 814 area code – which was established in 1947 and is one of Pennsylvania’s four original area codes. It includes cities such as Altoona, Erie, Johnstown and State College. It covers all or parts of 27 counties, including Armstrong (northeastern portion only); Bedford; Blair; Cambria; Cameron; Centre (majority of the county); Clarion (all except portions of west); Clearfield; Clinton (small portions); Crawford (all except southwestern portion); Elk; Erie; Fayette (small portions); Forest; Fulton (western portions); Huntingdon (except Kishacoquillas Valley); Indiana (northern and eastern portions only); Jefferson; McKean; Mercer (extreme northeastern portion); Mifflin (extreme southwestern corner); Potter; Somerset; Tioga (western portions only); Venango (all except southeastern corner); Warren; and Westmoreland (extreme northeastern corner only). It is the largest area code in the state and the last to undergo changes because existing phone numbers have been exhausted. The area code relief plan approved by the Commission was submitted by Somos, Inc., the neutral third party North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) for Pennsylvania. Based on current forecast predictions, the supply of phone numbers available in the 814 area code is projected to be exhausted in 2022. The new overlay area code will be assigned by NANPA and will be announced in the Fall of 2020. This new overlay area code is projected to provide telephone numbers to the region for approximately 67 years. Per today’s Commission Order, the telecommunications industry must complete all the necessary network preparations for the new overlay by Oct. 1, 2020. Additionally, the PUC will receive monthly updates on the projected exhaust date for the 814 area code. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.