Lawmakers back pilot program to individually assign phone numbers, which would save Maine from launching a second area code in 2024
Letter comes on the heels of Maine Public Utilities Commission investigation over questionable numbering practices
WASHINGTON — Maine’s congressional delegation urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today to take action to preserve the state’s 207 area code. Absent measures from the FCC, available 207 area code phone numbers are projected to run out in 2024, leading to the creation of a second area code for the state. Mainers often leave out their area code when relaying a phone number, so the addition of a second area code could cause headaches throughout the state and force many businesses and organizations to replace promotional and informational materials.
“In Maine, our single area code is both a cultural touchstone and a matter of efficiency.” wrote the members of Congress. “Given the longstanding existence of the single area code, businesses frequently omit the area code when displaying their phone number on signage and advertising. Exhaustion of area code 207 and introduction of an additional area code would create substantial inconvenience for consumers and economic costs for businesses.”
Under current FCC rules, phone numbers are allocated to phone providers in blocks of 1,000. Carriers often leave many numbers in a 1,000-number block unused, such as when the block is reserved for a small town. As a result, the 207 area code is currently projected to be exhausted in 2024 despite only 37 percent of 207 numbers currently being used.
Instead, MPUC recently petitioned the FCC to let Maine pilot individual phone number pooling, which allocates numbers one at a time to phone providers, instead of in large blocks.
“On behalf of residents and businesses across our state, we urge the Commission to explore all available possibilities — of which there are many — to avoid the exhaustion of the 207 area code. Specifically, we strongly support MPUC’s petition to evaluate and implement individual telephone number pooling as a pilot effort in Maine,” the members wrote.
You can read the full letter here.