Nov. 18, 2008
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington telecommunication companies will have at least four more years to assign customers phone numbers using the 360 area code, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) said today. As a result, Western Washington phone customers will avoid the need for a new area code and mandatory10-digit local dialing.
Because of the increased demand for new telephone numbers, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier estimated that a new area code would have to be added in 2010 in the territory currently using the 360 area code.
However, during the last few years the UTC worked cooperatively with telecommunications companies to identify and set aside unused phone numbers in the 360 area. This means that the existing stock of 360 phone numbers – once expected to run out in 2010 – will last until at least 2012.
“Introducing new area codes is disruptive and costly to residents and businesses in the state and 10-digit dialing is inconvenient,” said UTC Chairman Mark Sidran. “We commend the companies for working with us to conserve the existing supply of 360 phone numbers, delaying a new area code as long as possible.”
In the past, new area codes have been assigned to specific geographic areas. After all the 360 phone numbers are used, a new area code may be “overlaid” across all of Western Washington and assigned to all new phone numbers in this half of the state. Customers would then be required to dial 10 digits for all calls, including local.
The UTC number conservation effort was reflected in information -provided to the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), a private entity assigned by the FCC to coordinate area code relief planning.
Earlier UTC efforts allowed NANPA to extend its forecast for exhausting numbers in the 509 Eastern Washington area code from 2008 to 2014.
Other area codes in Washington are under considerably less pressure. The UTC expects telephone numbers in the 206 area code to last until 2020, and those in the 253 and 425 areas to last until 2028 and 2030, respectively.
Two years ago, the FCC gave the UTC authority to require telecommunications companies to use smaller 1,000-number allotments and return unused telephone prefix numbers. The number conservation program began in the 360 area code in Western Washington on Jan. 24, 2007.
The state’s third area code, 360, went into effect Jan. 15, 1995.
Staff contact: Marilyn Meehan