State gives OK to dialing up one more area code in Palm Beach County

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State regulators Tuesday approved moving forward with another area code in Palm Beach County, as they prepare to consider adding an area code in Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys.

The moves by the state Public Service Commission reflect Florida’s growing population and cellphones and other technology requiring new numbers.

Commissioners approved a plan to create an additional area code in Palm Beach County because the 561 area code is in jeopardy of running out of numbers.

The commission also announced that it will hold a workshop Dec. 21 about a proposal, filed last week by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, to create an additional area code in Miami-Dade and the Keys. The North American Numbering Plan Administrator is an agency that oversees area codes.

“Florida is growing, we have a growing, modern economy, and that means more telephone numbers,” commission Chairman Gary Clark said before the regulatory panel voted unanimously to approve the Palm Beach County plan.

In both cases, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator requested what is known in the telecommunications industry as an overlay, which means, for example, the new Palm Beach County area code will cover the same territory as the 561 area code, with new customers receiving the new code.

“All existing customers would retain their current area code in the overlay area and would not have to change their telephone numbers,” the Palm Beach County request said. “The implementation of an overlay requires mandatory 10-digit dialing for local calls, including calls within the same (area code).”

The 561 area code began in 1996, and an additional area code, 772, was approved in 2002 because the 561 code was “nearing exhaust,” according to the North American Numbering Plan Administrator. The new Palm Beach County code is projected to meet needs for 23 years.

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