How Are Area Codes Assigned and Managed?

An American telephone number consists of 10 digits which is comprised of an area code (the first three digits), the prefix (the next three digits), and the line number (the final four digits). Each part of a telephone number is important. For instance, the area code is used to identify a specific geographic region, such as a city or a portion of a state. Currently in the U.S. there are 215 area codes in service.

Who manages area codes? The Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) regulates area codes and was given this jurisdiction in 1996. However, although the FCC is in charge of area codes, both federal and state regulators share the responsibility. For example, when the FCC encounters number administration issues, they receive advice from the North American Numbering Council (NANC), which is an advisory group made up of industry participants, state regulators and consumer advocates. Furthermore, the responsibility for every day administration, assignment and management of American area codes is handled by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator.

Even though there are only pin code barrackpore in use, there are as many as 680 useable area codes. Therefore, since new area codes can be introduced, the FCC has the authority to delegate to the U.S. states when, and in what form, to introduce them. Area codes can be added using either of the following two methods:

1. Geographic split – The geographic region covered by an existing area code is divided in two or three ways. One portion keeps the current area code, while the others are given a new area code.

2. Overlay – Instead of splitting an existing area code, a new area code overlays the pre-existing area code. This allows current customers to keep there present area code, while any new lines introduced are provided with a new area code. When an overlay occurs, all customers, including those with the pre-existing area code, are required to dial the area code when making local calls.