The bad (or more accurately slightly inconvenient) news is that those in the 317 area code are soon going to have to dial three more numbers. The very good news is that consumers are not required to change their existing numbers.
To ease the inconvenience, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor urge callers to start their 10-digit dialing practices now. The new process will become mandatory on September 17 of this year.
The new 463 area code will be implemented in an overlay with the existing 317 area code. A similar 812/930 overlay took place in Southern Indiana last year. The change is necessitated by the projected exhaustion of 317 number combinations later this year.
It doesn't seem that long ago that communications in our state was defined by the following trio of three-set numbers: 219, 317 and 812. I was an 812 guy as a younngster, having grown up in St. Leon (near the Ohio border and Cincinnati), and later switched to 317 during college and early working years.
But it's been a full 17 years since the first expansion of Indiana's three area codes. Geographic splits took place in 1996 (765 was added in the former 317 territory) and 2001 (219 in the north saw a three-way divide with 574 and 260 coming into play). Now it's Southern Indiana's turn. The 812 area code was originally forecasted to run out of numbers in 2004, but conservation efforts put off the inevitable until the current projection of 2015.
For those "812ers," it's time to weigh in. Geographic splits have been replaced by "overlays" in many instances. Overlays allow everyone to keep current phone numbers but requires 10-digit dialing for local calls. The geographic split keeps the seven-digit local dialing but would require many to switch to numbers with a new area code.
The first of 10 public hearings throughout the region takes place Monday in Terre Haute. Other locations are Bloomington, Jeffersonville, Evansville, Vincennes, Bedford, Springs Valley, St. Meinrad, North Vernon and St. Leon. Comments can also be submitted by various other methods.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor has all the details on the meeting and much more. Check out the informative web page.