Arkansas Public Service Commission discusses new area codes

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

Jonesboro, AR (KAIT) -- With the 870 numbering area starting to run out of numbers, and the need for those numbers continuing to rise--something has to be done.

"It's time to start planning to introduce a new area code," said John Bethel.

There are six proposals on how to do that.  The Arkansas Public Service Commission will decide on one.  Director of the commission John Bethel says, an overlay proposal has been recommended by the staff of the commission, numbering plan administrator, and telecommunications industry representatives.

"You'd have two area codes with the same geographic area," said Bethel.

If the overlay proposal is chosen, Bethel says new numbers would be issued the new area codes. Customers that currently have 870 numbers could keep them, but everyone will have to add their area codes when they make a call.

"Instead of 7 for your local calls, you'll dial 10 digits for your local calls and 10 digits for your toll calls," said Bethel.

"Everything that has the telephone number on it had to eventually be changed," said Skip Layne.

CenturyTel's Skip Layne has been through this before.  He says changing cards, letterheads, even numbers on company vehicles  is very costly and even a little confusing.  That's why he says he backs the overlay proposal.

"It's a lot less painful than just changing everybody's," said Layne.

"With an overlay you would dial ten digits.  You would just include the area code, and so many times we're doing that with wireless phones," said AT&T Arkansas', Rhonda Cline.

John Bethel says a final decision on a proposal is expected in the next few months, and new area codes in 2011.

As far as what those numbers will be?

"No idea at all.  We won't know until it gets pretty close to the time for it to be issued," said Bethel.

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