Living in 803 area code? SC phone customers will soon have different digits
By John Marks
August 16, 2018 04:48 PM
New phone? Soon it’ll be coming with a new area code.
An area code of 839 has been assigned to the entire area of what now is 803. That area includes York, Lancaster and Chester counties and goes down to Columbia and through the mid-state.
Existing 803 numbers won’t change. But new phones, once the change is implemented, will start with 839. Eventually all calls using the two area codes will require dialing area codes.
“Eventually everyone will have to start dialing 10 digits to get to the right number,” said Matthew Dosch, executive vice president and COO of Comporium.
Dosch said his company doesn’t have a date for when newly issued numbers will get the different area code. The move comes from federal communications groups. Dosch expects phase-in time to update technology.
“The whole process will take about 13 months,” he said. “We’re sort of on standby for when that date actually starts.”
Neustar, Inc. is in charge of administering the Federal Communications Commission’s numbering system. According to the company, the change applies to all phone types that would use 803 now.
“Service providers are projected to have the new 839 area code implemented by the end of second quarter of 2020, after which they can begin to assign numbers from 839 to customers,” said spokesperson Carolin Bachmann.
The company routinely projects when area codes will be exhausted. It’s projected the 803 area will hit that point in late 2020. The process to add a new area code began last fall.
Apart from perhaps large companies that may add lines after the change, most of the heavy lifting on system upgrades falls to phone companies like Comporium. Customers often use cell phones or technology that saves numbers to make calls, so they wouldn’t be dialing digits anyway. Plus, existing numbers won’t change.
Years ago, when an area grew to a point of needing a new area code the method of doing it was to divide the area in half. Some would get new area codes and some wouldn’t.
“The industry hasn’t done that for a long time,” Dosch said. “It’s not nearly as disruptive as it used to be.”
Comporium, based in Rock Hill, serves more than 75,000 voice accounts company-wide, many of them based in the 803 area code.
Companies like Comporium will have some ability to issue 803 numbers — if available — even after the change.
“New phone numbers can be assigned by service providers from the existing area code 803 until the supply of those numbers is exhausted,” Bachmann said. “When the new area code 839 is implemented, if numbers in either area code are still available in a particular geographic area, the service provider can assign them from either the 803 or 829 area code.”
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