The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has decided to go forward with a geographic split of the 814 area code. The area code covers a huge swatch of Pennsylvania stretching from Erie in the north to Bedford in the south. PUC Spokesperson Jennifer Kocher says the increased demand for phone numbers has stressed the 814 area code. The 814 area code is projected to run out of telephone numbers in the first quarter of 2013.
The PUC took public input over the last year on how to best divide the area code including the possibility of an overlay plan. Kocher says the commission felt the geographic split was the best. The area code boundary will roughly run along Jefferson, Elk and McKean counties with the new area code being applied in those counties and to the west. (See map above.) (A more detailed map can be found here.) With the geographic split, consumers may continue to dial seven digits for local calling.
The PUC plans to split the area code starting in February of 2012. “There will be plenty of time for people to get used to the new area code,” says Kocher. The North American Numbering Plan Administrator will choose a new number soon. Kocher says there will be a great deal of public outreach to let people know if they will switch or not. She says cell phone customers will have to talk to their provider. A permissive dialing period of about six months is allowed while customers adjust to the change. Once the permissive dialing period has ended, customers will receive a recorded message telling them to hang up and redial the numbers using the new area code. The split will give the 814 area code another 18 years of life and the new area code is expected to be able to keep up with demand for the next 22 years.