It looks like South Jersey may soon have to get used to dialing a new area code.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is beginning a process to create a new area code for the region currently served by the 609, which is quickly running out of available numbers.
Without action by the agency, all available phone numbers within the 609 area code will be in use by the third quarter of 2018, according to a request to the state from Neustar, the Federal Communications Commission’s designated administrator for the numbering plan in North America.
The original 2019 exhaustion date for the 609 area code has been accelerated due to increased demand for numbers, according to Neustar.
The request has triggered a public comment period until February 27, 2017; the agency has scheduled a public hearing for 10 a.m. on February 23, on the first floor at 44 S. Clinton Ave., Trenton.
If the board decides action is necessary, it will approve a new all-service distributed-overlay to provide relief. Doing so will add a new area code to the 609 geographic area; new requests will be assigned that area code.
Customers will retain their current telephone numbers, but will be required to change to a 10-digit dialing system within the geographic area and add 1 to the 10-digit dialing system when calling other geographic areas or zones with other areas codes.
The telephone industry and Neustar recommended the new system, saying it is the least disruptive and most efficient relief plan. It also does not require the redrawing of existing geographic area-code boundaries.
If approved by the agency, the new plan would be phased in over a 15-month period. Once the switch is made, the new area code is predicted to last 46 years, according to the agency.