Beginning in 2015, local residents will have to dial an area code to make any telephone call.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) had been notified by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA), the federal agency that oversees distribution of telephone numbers, that the 740 area code is expected to run out of available numbers by the first half of 2015, and was considering two options.
One was an overlay, which would give a new area code to all new phone numbers and allow current 740 customers to keep their numbers. That plan means even local calls would require dialing an area code.
The other option was to split the 740 area code part of the state in half, allowing half to keep its numbers and requiring all new numbers in the other half.
PUCO approved a plan Wednesday that will overlay a new area code, 220, into the existing 740 area code thereby implementing mandatory 10-digit local dialing beginning March 21, 2015. Under the plan, all calls that are currently local will remain local, while long distance calls will continue as such.
"The commission found that the overlay plan is the more appropriate and equitable one in order to provide the best long-term relief for the 740 area code," said PUCO Chairman Todd A. Snitchler. "The commission weighed the input received from the public and from the Ohio telecommunications industry and has determined the overlay plan as the least disruptive and fair - treating all existing 740 customers equally by allowing current customers to retain the 740 area code on all existing lines. Today's order is also consistent with the past four commission orders in area code relief cases in Ohio."
Following the approval of an overlay plan, the NANPA will assign the new 220 area code to parts of central and southeast Ohio, that will co-exist with the existing geographical boundaries of the 740 area code. All current 740 area code subscribers will continue to maintain the 740 area code. Once the available phone numbers in the 740 area code exhaust, telephone numbers in the new 220 area code will be utilized.
In order for subscribers in the 740 area code to become accustomed to the pending changes in local dialing, subscribers will be able to complete local calls by dialing either 10 or seven digits beginning Sept. 20, 2014 and continue for at least six months.
After the six-month grace period, callers will be required to dial 10 digits.