Mandatory area code dialing set to start in Hillsborough County
Get ready, Tally, a new area code is coming your way.

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The region will soon be getting a new area code in order to meet the demand of local numbers.

Tampa Bay residents will soon have to dial a three-digit area code in order to make local calls because of the growing demand for new phone numbers in the area, the Florida Public Service Commission announced Wednesday.

Starting Jan. 22, all local calls made within the Tampa Bay area will move to a 10-digit dialing system, requiring the use of an area code along with the seven-digit phone number.

Why? Because the region will soon be getting a new area code in order to meet the demand for new phone numbers.

The PSC approved a new “656” area code in March 2020 because available 813 area code numbers are expected to run out this year.

“To ensure the demand of new phone numbers in Hillsborough County is satisfied, the Commission extended the supply of available numbers by approving the new 656 area code,” PSC Chairman Andrew Fay said in a statement. “Customers have been getting used to 10-digit dialing during the transition period in the past nine months, but now is the time to ensure you have made the necessary changes to your devices.”

Telephone users in the 813 area code overlay region may be assigned the new 656 area code when requesting new service, an additional line or moving their service, according to the Commission. Any needed reprogramming of alarm and home security equipment should occur before Jan. 22.

The Commission also released important reminders about the update:

— First, your current telephone number, including current area code, will not change.

— If you seek new phone service after Feb. 21, you may be assigned a phone number with the 656 area code.

— For all local calls, you will need to dial the area code and seven-digit telephone number.

— For long-distance calls, you will continue to dial 1 + area code + telephone number.

— The price of a call, coverage area or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay.

— No area code is needed to dial 911. You can still dial just three digits to reach 911. You can also dial three digits to reach 211 and 811, as well as 311 and 511, where available.

— Make sure to include your area code when giving your number.

— Customers should ensure that all services, automatic dialing equipment or other types of equipment recognize the new 656 area code as a valid area code, and should continue to program 10-digit telephone numbers.

— Examples of such equipment are life safety systems and medical monitoring devices, stored telephone numbers in mobile and cordless phone contact lists, and safety alarm and security systems.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


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