> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
Since 1947, back when area codes on telephone numbers originated, the 812 area code has covered the expanse that is Southern Indiana. But as the 812 area code is set to be exhausted by 2015, a new area code is being introduced.
Starting March 1, all consumers in Indiana’s 812 telephone area code were supposed to start using 10 digits — rather than the familiar seven — to make local phone calls.
If you haven’t noticed a change, that’s because local calls made with seven digits will still work until early September to give consumers in the 812 area ample time to adjust to the changes.
The change in dialing patterns is necessary for the introduction of the new 930 area code, which will be implemented late this summer.
The new code is being added through the “overlay” method, which has been used for all new area code additions in the United States since 2008. An overlay is the addition of another area code to the same geographic region as an existing area code. An overlay does not require customers to change their existing phone numbers, unlike a geographic split, the previous method that would give residents a new code based on their address.
Those with an 812 phone number right now will keep their code.
Southern Indiana residents will begin seeing the 930 area code on new numbers beginning Oct. 6. The new code will be given to all individuals who receive a new phone number. In some cases, people who move to a new residence may be given a 930 number.
AT&T Director of External Affairs Pepper Mulherin explained the process and why a new area code is necessary Wednesday morning during a Huntingburg Chamber of Commerce event.
“The proliferation of wireless devices largely [have contributed to the exhaust],” Mulherin said. Each device, as well as landlines at home, requires a unique number. Even though there are 8 million combinations with the 812 area code, individuals and businesses with multiple numbers have run the well dry, she said.
To ensure a continuing supply of telephone numbers, the new 930 area code will be added to the entire 812 region, which spans the southern third of the state north of Terre Haute all the way to the Ohio River. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission ordered the overlay in July 2013 following a year-long examination.
“It was identified that that’s the least confusing, least expensive for businesses and consumers and just the best solution,” Mulherin said of the overlay. “It’s estimated that this new overlay will give us 71 years of additional calling.”
Individuals and businesses with landlines, and those with cellular devices, should start providing people with their 10-digit number now, Mulherin said, to avoid confusion later.
“You can’t just assume the number is 812. Seven-digit dialing assumes the number is 812, and that’s no longer an option effective Sept. 6,” she said.
Even though — or maybe because — the overlay implementation is operating on an extended timeline, Mulherin said the response to the change has been minimal.
“I predict that a lot of businesses with (private phone systems) or speed dials have not given this a second thought. So there is a very serious call to action or they are going to have an interruption,” she said.
The change will also affect individuals with cell phones attempting to text message their contacts saved with just seven digits.
“You really should be changing all your contacts in your mobile device to 10 digits now,” Mulherin said.
Mulherin also suggested consumers make sure all services, including automatic dialing equipment, software and cell phones, recognize the 930 area code as valid.
“The call to action is please share the message,” she said. “This could be disruptive if you wait until the last minute.”