State of Utah

area code 801 overlay decision

Details of the Utah Public Service Commission's Area Code 801 Overlay Decision
  • The Public Service Commission (“PSC”) has implemented a new area code relief measure because numbers in the 801 area code have been depleted.
  • Following a number of public hearings, technical conferences, and an investigation of all available options, the PSC focused on two relief options, an overlay and a geographic split.
  • Overlay – only new telephone customers in the current 801 area code region would be assigned a new 385 area code number.
  • Geographic split – would assign the 801 area code solely to Salt Lake County with a new 385 area code assigned north and south of Salt Lake County. Approximately 50% of customers in the 801 area code would have their numbers changed to the 385 area code.
  • The PSC determined the overlay approach imposes lower costs spread fairly across all parties and decided the public interest was best served by implementing the overlay option.
History and the Reasoning Behind the Decision
  • November, 1999 – the PSC learned of the impending depletion of the 801area code numbers.
  • By actively managing the use and assignment of telephone numbers within the 801 area code, the PSC was able to delay implementing area code relief for over seven years.
  • On April 26, 2000 the Commission decided to implement a geographic split when the 801 numbers were depleted and was expected to be finalized in June, 2001.
  • The PSC considered the following public comments prior to reaching a decision:
    • Residential customers do not want to change their current numbers. While some are opposed to dialing 10 digits as would be required by a split; others are unconcerned about dialing 10 digits since their telephones have speed dialing or the ability to store 10 digit numbers.
    • Business customers want to keep their current numbers to avoid the cost of reprinting stationary, business cards and forms, signage, and advertising. They are also concerned about losing customers who are not aware the businesses’ phone number has changed.
    • There are now fewer wireline phones in Utah than cell phones and most cell phones cannot conveniently be reprogrammed to accommodate a new area code.
    • Traditional and internet telephone companies voice no preference. The nationwide trend is towards implementing overlays in metropolitan areas.
    • A split would provide only temporary relief since demand would soon result in exhaustion of available phone numbers and another split or overlay would be required.

     

If you desire to discuss this issue in greater detail you may contact the PSC’s telecommunication’s analyst, John Harvey at 801-530-6781, or by email at jsharvey@utah.gov.