Tribune staff reports
Dialing long distance — or even locally — could change in Jackson County within three years or so.
The 812 area code, established when North America’s telephone numbering system went into effect in 1947, is running short of numbers.
Forecasts call for that to happen in the first half of 2015.
The projected shortage is being caused by population and business growth and greater demand for cell phones.
The 812 area code is Indiana’s largest by geography, covering the southern third of the state including communities such as Seymour, Brownstown, Bloomington, Terre Haute, New Albany and Evansville.
To make more seven-digit phone numbers available, state regulators will choose from two types of options:
Splitting the geographic area into two or more three-digit zones, either north-south or east-west.
Overlaying a new three-digit area code over the existing boundaries of the 812 area code.
In an overlay, all existing telephone numbers stay the same, including the existing area code. But new numbers within that same geography would be assigned to a new area code. In dialing, all customers — in the old area code and new one — would need to enter 10 digits for all local calls. Since 2005, 43 new area codes have been
implemented in North America. All but two have been implemented as overlays.
In a split, an additional cost is incurred when business customers assigned to the new area code, for example, must change their phone number on business cards, in telephone directories and in other marketing tools.
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