STOCKTON, Calif. — In 2001, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reported there were 5.61 million unused phone numbers under the 209 area code. Now nearly 20 years later, the agency suspects all possible phone numbers in the that area code will get used by December 2022.
In a letter to Supervisor Victor Chiesa, the CPUC Consumer Programs Manager Jonathan Lakritz said the state had started the process to introduce a new, undetermined area code.
CPUC spokesperson Terrie Prosper said the area covering Stockton, Modesto, Merced and surrounding areas will need this additional area code for any new phone numbers when the 209 area code runs out.
"The process to add a new area code is necessary so new prefixes and phone numbers are available for customers who are ordering new phone service," Prosper said.
Lakritz told Chiesa starting June 1 there will be pre-recorded videos posted to the CPUC website to explain the next steps. Public comments about the new area code should be submitted by Aug. 1 to the CPUC Public Advisor's Office by email (email@example.com) or by mail (320 W. 4th St., Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA, 90013).
The new area code will be selected by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator and not the CPUC. This process usually takes a year before the new area code is ready.
When the overlay process does go into effect, people will need to dial +1 with the new area code before dialing a telephone number to successfully make a call, if they are trying to call someone with that area code. When dialing 911, 211, 311 or any other N-1-1 number people will dial it as they normally do.
Since 2006, California has added 12 new area codes in the same way they will to the 209 area.