408 area code, get ready for 669

408 area code, get ready for 669

Longtime fans of the 408 could soon have some competition.
Longtime fans of the 408 could soon have some competition.

The 408 area code, which spans all of Santa Clara County, will run out of available phone numbers as early as October 2012, according to the North American Numbering Plan Administration.

A new area code, 669, will be instituted to keep pace with the growing demand for phone numbers in the South Bay Area.

By next year, Gilroyans may have to dial 10 digits to make some local calls.

John Manning, senior director for NANPA, said every area code has set limit of prefixes, or the first three digits that follow the area code.

“We’re reaching the point where we have very few prefixes left,” Manning said of the 408. “And how you add more prefixes is you add another area code.”

The California Public Utilities Commission ultimately will decide whether to split the current area code geography into 669s and 408s or mandate that all newly assigned numbers adopt the 669 area code.

The second option, also known as an “overlay,” is the more popular and likelier option.

“To try to divide it up becomes somewhat difficult to do,” Manning said.

The Public Utilities Commission will host a public participation meeting regarding the proposed new area code at 10 a.m. Friday, March 18 at the Morgan Hill City Hall Council Chambers at 17555 Peak Ave.

Once the Public Utilities Commission decides which action to take, phone service providers will be required to implement the new area code within six months to one year, according to the commission.

Manning said adding area codes was not uncommon. Six of the 300-plus area codes in the U.S. were created just last year, he said.

“It’s not a lot, but it’s not infrequent,” he said. “This has occurred all over the U.S.”

As for how 669 was picked as the newest area code, Manning said, “There’s really no rhyme or reason for it.”

He said selecting numbers that aren’t similar to existing area codes in nearby regions, however, is always taken into account to avoid confusion.

Manning said some people take pride in their area codes, and adjusting to dialing new ones takes some patience.

“Naturally, some of those people grow up with the same area code,” he said. “That attachment can take years to get over.

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