Starting in the spring of 2015, anyone applying for new phone service in DeKalb County or elsewhere in middle Tennessee can expect to get a new area code once the availability of (615) area code numbers is exhausted.
The Tennessee Regulatory Authority announced Thursday plans to implement the new (629) area code.
On Monday afternoon, the TRA voted to approve an overlay plan, which means anyone getting new phone service, cell, or landline will be given the new designated (629) area code after the existing numbers run out. Under the Overlay option, all current (615) numbers would remain but could require 10-digit dialing for local calls within the (615) as well as the new (629) area code. Phone calls that are currently treated as local calls will remain as local calls and calls that are treated as long distance calls will remain as long distance calls.
"The North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) notified the TRA in October of 2010 that the 615 Area Code would be exhausted in the near future," said Craig Gates, Chief Executive Officer of DTC Communications. " In May of this year the TRA set up information on the TRA website to let people know what was happening and they also set up a survey for people to participate in. The survey was conducted and 83.2% of those surveyed wanted the overlay and that is how they (TRA) agreed to allow the overlay to take place versus doing an actual Area Code Split. An area code split last done on (615) was when the area code 931 was created, on September 15, 1997," he said.
"The TRA decision to go to an overlay instead of an area code split is the best thing that could have happened for DTC customers," said Gates in a phone statement to WJLE Friday. "We won't have to change our home or business phone numbers that we currently have. We will have to change our dialing pattern a little. Given this change, it will be a lot like dialing with the cell phone today, but better than losing the (615) area code. We will be doing a lot of customer education to explain any of the changes necessary over the next year to fifteen months. We have plenty of time to get ready for the new overlay of (629) in the (615) area code," said Gates.
According to media reports, phone companies have until July to make their networks overlay ready.
Customers will then have seven months to try it out, using ten digits to dial, before the full change goes into effect. During the same time period, phone companies will be given the same amount of time to work out any problems.