Get ready for “the 838.”
State officials announced Tuesday that 838 will be the new area code to accompany 518, the area’s longtime area code.
Whether “the 838” becomes as synonymous with the region as “the 518” remains to be seen, but the new digits are expected to begin gracing area communications devices starting third-quarter 2017, according to the New York State Public Service Commission.
“We needed to create a new area code because of strong and robust demand for telecommunication services,” commission chair Audrey Zibelman said in a statement. “With the creation of the new 838 area code, eastern New York is well-positioned to accommodate future growth in this important sector of the economy, and it will ensure that local telephone service remains efficient.”
The state commission last week approved adding the new area code to the 17-county region now served exclusively by 518. Tuesday’s announcement identified the new area code as 838.
The move means anyone making calls within the area code region will have to dial all 10 digits. But it also means existing numbers won’t change.
The 518 area code has about a year’s worth of available numbers remaining, the state commission has said.
May estimates from the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, which administers the numbering system for telephone networks in the U.S., put the run-out date in the first quarter of 2019.
The organization revised that estimate last month and asked the commission to act quickly in approving the new area code.
The commission looked at dividing the 518 region or putting the new area code over the top, an overlay. They chose the overlay, so new telephone numbers will be issued with the new area code.
The overlay method has been used in all newly created area codes in recent years, according to the commission. New technology is driving the demand for new numbers.
Once the new code is active, those dialing within the area code region won’t need to dial 1, just the 10 digits. Those dialing numbers outside the boundary will add the 1. There is expected to be a grace period during which dialing just seven digits will still work.
The commission also cited public input, which they said sided with the overlay option by a 60 percent majority.
The 518 area code is the only original New York state area code covering its original boundaries, and it is one of the few remaining original national codes that has never been split or overlaid.
Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, [email protected] or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.