Three different options for addressing the shortage of phone numbers in the 3-1-9 area code emerged from an Iowa Utilities Board hearing Tuesday. Telephone industry representatives presented their preferences in the seven-hour hearing. Board spokesman Rob Hillesland says an area code overlay was the first option proposed by the industry.The overlay would assign a new area code to new numbers when the current 3-1-9 area code runs out of numbers. A second option would split the area much the same way the 5-1-5 area code was split earlier this year.As many as 18 split alternatives have been proposed. Hillesland says the wireless phone companies came out in favor of the overlay plan after having to reprogram thousands of phones when the 5-1-5 area code was split. A third option is called a “rate center consolidation.”That option would combine local telephone exchanges to encompass larger areas. Hillesland says the board is considering all the proposals and public comment on the issue. He says the board should make a decision in October. Hillesland says the new numbers available in the 3-1-9 area code are expected to run out next year. For more information on the proposals for the 3-1-9 area code, you can check the Iowa Utilities Board webpage at: www.state.ia.us/iub.
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