Tuesday, August 21 , 2018, 11:25 pm | Fair 64º


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CPUC Holds Santa Barbara Meeting for Proposal to Add Another Area Code to 805 Region

California Public Utilities Commission will decide what to do about dwindling pool of 805 phone numbers, which serve people from Monterey County to Ventura County

The California Public Utilities Commission held a public meeting in Santa Barbara Monday to talk about the proposed plans to add an area code to the 805 region. Click to view larger
The California Public Utilities Commission held a public meeting in Santa Barbara Monday to talk about the proposed plans to add an area code to the 805 region.  (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

While the heavily-populated Los Angeles area is home to several different area codes, use of the 805 number extends from southern Monterey County to eastern Ventura County.

The expansive region covering the area code Santa Barbara County residents are used to dialing — embraced by dozens of local businesses in their names and products — may be truncated in a couple years’ time, as the pool of 805 phone number combinations begins to run out.

The 805 area code is projected to run out of available numbers in two years, the California Public Utilities Commission said at a public meeting held Monday night at Santa Barbara’s Eastside Branch Library, at 1102 E. Montecito St.

Most of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties, along with small portions of Kern and Monterey counties, utilize the 805 code, which was created in 1957 after splitting off from the 213 area code.

The region was further defined in 1999 when the 661 code split off from it.

There are two primary ways to tackle the issue, the CPUC said, and both require adding a new area code to the current 805 region.

An area code overlay, recommended by the telecommunications industry, would give new phone numbers in the area a brand-new area code.

The other option would be an area code split, where new and existing numbers in one half of the region would be given a new area code.

The geographic split option has not been used in the United States for 12 years, said Joe Cocke, an area code relief planner with Neustar, the third party contracted to forecast the exhaust of area codes and begin what’s known as area code relief planning.

A split would most likely occur along the Santa Barbara County-Ventura County line, and would give the sides very different lifespans for their respective codes.

It hasn’t been determined yet which side would receive the new area code, Cocke said.

In response to a question by Lompoc Mayor Bob Lingl, Cocke told attendees that moving the boundary into Ventura County to even out the sides’ lifespans would likely divide a city between the two area codes, which would inconvenience businesses and lead to technical difficulties for telecommunications service providers.

Those inconveniences have led to the virtually exclusive use of the overlay option, which has been used to create six new area codes in the state, with another in the works for downtown Los Angeles.

With the overlay relief plan, existing numbers would keep the 805 area code, but local calls would have to be dialed with a 1 before the full 10-digit number.

By law, the new dialing procedure cannot lead to higher charges for consumers, and calls to 9-1-1 and other “N-1-1” numbers would still require dialing only the three digits.

Cocke told attendees that with an overlay, customers would receive the new dialing instructions on their service provider bill, and dialing an original seven-digit number would bring up a recording explaining how to properly redial.

Cocke and representatives from telecommunications companies in attendance said service providers have received minimal to no complaints over the changes that come with the overlay approach.

Under an area code split, on the other hand, some in the 805 region with the new area code would have to change over to the new number.

CPUC and Neustar predict that by June 2018, the 805 region will run out of its area code prefixes, which are the three digits that follow the area code.

The prefixes are assigned to the 40 different rate centers in the 805 region. Only 40 of the 792 available prefixes are left.

The overlay plan would extend the region’s area code lifespan 46 years, Cocke said.

The Federal Communications Commission has full jurisdiction over numbering and sets rules for it, but delegates administration to the states.

Neustar is the company serving as the North American Numbering Plan Administration, or NANPA, which files the telecommunications industry’s preferred area code relief plan with the CPUC and eventually decides the new area code.

The CPUC will make the ultimate decision on a plan next spring, and written comments can be emailed to the its Public Advisor’s office at [email protected]

Under either plan, individuals are recommended to update security systems, stationary and bank checks with the new 10-digit number, advise friends and family of the changes, provide the full number when giving it out and remembering to ask for others’ full numbers.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

The 805 area code is used in Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Kern counties. Click to view larger
The 805 area code is used in Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Kern counties.  (CPUC photo)

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