New area code may be in works | SierraSun.com
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New area code may be in works

CHRIS DRAGO, Sun News Service

Just eight months after the last change, California area codes will change again – and Nevada County may get another new area code.

The 530 area code which covers a large portion of Northern California, including Nevada County, the Lake Tahoe area and north to the Oregon border, will be affected.

The change should be completed by November, 2001. The new area code hasn’t been determined.

According to Kyle DeVine, a spokeswoman for the California Public Utilities Commission, the reason for the frequent area code changes is competition between local phone companies.

“Local competition has really increased in the last few years,” said DeVine. “For every company that wants to provide telephone service, they have to have their own prefixes.

“Because there are so many competing companies these days, we are running out of prefixes. So we have to create new area codes to make room for more prefixes.”

DeVine said area code changes no longer have anything to do with rising populations.

“Back in the old days before competition there was only one phone company in an area,” she said. “They had an exclusive monopoly in that area. We only needed to issue new numbers when the growth of that area dictated it.”

When local phone company competition began in 1997, there were 13 area codes in the state. Right now there are 25, and DeVine said that by the year 2002 there will be 42 area codes in California.

“The number of area codes has doubled in two years,” she said. DeVine said current policy allows far too many unused numbers to be issued.

DeVine said a possible solution would be number pooling, in which phone companies are issued blocks of numbers, say 1,000 per block. Each company would be issued as many blocks as it needed at the time, which would allow for growth without a huge excess of unused numbers.

The public utilities commission will hold three public meetings before the changes will be officially made. Dates of those meetings have not been announced.


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