Starting Saturday, people across Idaho will have to adjust to a new normal: dialing 10-digits when they place a call – even local ones. The shift comes as the Gem State prepares to adopt a second area code: 986.
2-0-8, those numbers have been synonymous with Idaho since 1947 when area codes were introduced. But, 70 years later, phone numbers prefaced by those three digits are in short supply.
While phone numbers beginning with the new 986 area code won’t start being doled out until next month, residents are getting ready for the change by having to dial ten digits for all calls.
Matt Evans with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission says phone users should check their contacts and speed dials, along with a few other phone-based systems.
“If you have an alarm system, or medical alert system – anything that has assigned a telephone number or is programmed to call a telephone number, you need to make sure that it’s programmed to dial ten-digit,” he says.
Evans is emphasizing local calls will stay local and three-digit services like 911 won’t change.
Even though the rollout of 986 is a month away, Evans is trying to get ahead of some “fake news” regarding the new area code.
“We’ve been hearing some misinformation,” Evan says. “A TV station said this is because of an influx of people – mainly from California. That’s not true. This is really just because of the proliferation of technology that uses telephone numbers like: voice-over-internet protocol, fax machines, alarm systems, medical alert systems.”
If you want to rush out and get a 208 number before the switch, Evans has a tip. He says a lot of areas in the state outside of Boise still have a decent supply of 208 numbers left.
“It’ll be years before the more rural areas are going to start assigning the 986 area code,” according to Evans.
As for where 986 came from, the three numbers were assigned to Idaho by Neustar, the tech company that manages area codes for the government.
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