November 7, 2008 PSC Adds Two New Area Codes to Supplement the 715 and 920 Area Codes

MADISON – With Wisconsin’s 715 and 920 area codes projected to run out
of available phone numbers near the end of 2011, today the Public
Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC)ordered relief for both areas by
means of an overlay. Area code 715 will have an overlay of new area
code 534, while area code 920 will have an overlay of new area code

With an overlay, a new area code is introduced within the same
geographic region as the existing
area code. All existing customers will keep their current area code
and telephone numbers.

Eventually new telecommunications providers and new customers to the
area may be assigned telephone numbers with the new area code. With an
overlay, because both area codes reside within the same geographic
area, all local calls must be dialed using the area code and the
7-digit telephone number (10-digit dialing). This 10-digit dialing
requirement is mandated by the
Federal Communications Commission. The option to an overlay, not
selected by the PSC, was a
geographic split. With a split, each area would have been divided and
about half the customers
in 715 and 920 would have needed to change their existing area code.

“Nobody likes seeing area code changes, but we have done all we can to
forestall today’s
decision,” said Chairperson Eric Callisto. “Overlays are the cheapest,
most efficient way to
implement area code relief, and our decision today will make future
area code relief easier. PSC staff and the telecommunications industry
will work hard to ensure the smooth addition of these codes to the
available pool.”

“In other states across the nation, overlays are fast becoming the
norm for area code relief
practices,” said Commissioner Mark Meyer. “Wisconsin customers will
benefit from this trend
because it is the cheapest, most feasible and economically sound

“Working with the telecommunications industry, PSC staff and
interested parties to resolve this
issue, we have been able to allow ample time for the transition of
customers in the 920 and 715
area codes,” said Commissioner Lauren Azar.

It is currently anticipated that the new 534 area code will be
introduced in the 715 area in the
summer of 2010. The new 274 code in the 920 area may be implemented in
late 2011. The introduction of the new area codes has no impact on
rates for local or long distance calling.

Some customers may need to adjust automatic dialers, alarm systems,
internal phone systems or
call forwarding arrangements to accommodate the 10-digit dialing

In recent years, the prevalence of technology in everyday life has
increased tremendously,
causing an elevated demand for telecommunications services. The
elevated demand encompasses new providers such as wireless cell phone
companies and competing telephone companies as well as computer
technology, OnStar, and security alarm systems services.

Area code changes are not unique to Wisconsin. Many dozens of new area
codes have been
introduced thought the nation over past several years. Area code 608
is projected to run out of
available numbers in 2016, with the 262 area code expected to exhaust
in 2022 and area code 414 in the year 2032.

The PSC has been addressing area code exhaust in the 715 and 920 area
codes for over a year.
The PSC held public hearings throughout the state and took comments
from hundreds of consumers. The PSC has pursued number conservation
efforts to extend the area code lives as much as possible. Most
recently it instituted a procedure called mandatory number pooling to
make thousands of unused numbers held by them available for others to

Documents associated with 715 and 920 area code relief can be viewed
on the PSC’s Electronic
Regulatory Filing System at Type case numbers for
(715), 5-TN-100, and for
(920), 5-TN-106 in the boxes provided on the PSC homepage, or click on
the Electronic Regulatory Filing System button.