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New Idaho area code numbers to roll out next month

photo of cellphone

Idahoans needed to start dialing the area code in August. File photo.

Accustomed to dialing the 208 area code before an Idaho telephone number yet?

Starting next month, telephone numbers with the 986 area code will be assigned to people and businesses.

Ten-digit dialing became mandatory August 5. The 986 area code went into service on September 5, said John Manning, senior director of the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), in Sterling, Virginia.  That means it was available for new numbers to be assigned to it. However, only two blocks of the new central office code prefixes (loosely defined as the blocks of the new area code) have been assigned so far, in March, and they won’t be effective until May, he said.

The two central office code prefixes consist of two blocks of 1,000 sequential numbers, meaning 2,000 numbers with the new area code have been assigned, said Matt Evans, public information officer for the Public Utilities Commission, in Boise. The blocks had been assigned to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) providers, which he was not allowed to name. According to the NANPA website, the companies assigned the two blocks were Vonage Network Inc. and Level 3 Telecom of Idaho.

“VOIP tends to be less expensive than traditional phone service and so is popular,” Evans said. “Hence the need for the new area code (in part) and the first assignments of the new area code.”

Idaho needed to add a new area code because the PUC projected it would run out of numbers in some parts of the 208 area code by mid-2018, Evans said. However, that has not yet happened, Manning said. The fact there have been few codes assigned to carriers may be due to the fact there are still numbers available in the 208 area code, because carriers have the option of specifically requesting a number from either the 208 or 986 area code.

So far, the migration has been uneventful, Evans said. “From the commission’s perspective, the conversion to 10-digit dialing went well,” he said. “We had a dozen or so complaints in the days after mandatory 10-digit dialing took effect but those were quickly resolved.”

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