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Area code 205 is a Birmingham identifier. American Idol winner and Grammy-nominated Birmingham singer Ruben Studdard made 205 famous when he wore it emblazoned across his jersey as he performed on the national show as a way of paying homage to his hometown and to get votes.
With the recent Alabama Public Service Commission’s approval of 659 as an overlay area code for new phone numbers in Central Alabama the 205 area code may no longer be an option for those who want a new phone number in Birmingham.
Area Code History
According to the Alabama Public Service Commission, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) works with the utility commissions in each state to manage telephone numbering resources. NANPA maintains a database of telephone numbers assigned to telecommunications providers from those available in each area code.
NANPA issues a number utilization forecast that projects when all telephone numbers in a specific area code will exhaust based on existing and projected phone number assignments. Telephone numbers in the 205 area code are projected to exhaust in 2020 due to subscriber growth and expansion of services that require a phone number. Cell phone providers, wireline providers, alarm services and VoIP (voice over internet) providers assign telephone numbers in a particular area code.
Overlays instead of assigning a new area code are the preferred plan for relief in exhausted areas in the United State. Alabama saw splits in 1998 when the 256 area code split North and East Alabama from the 205 area code and an additional overlay code 938 was implemented in the 256 area in 2010. South Alabama was split from the 334 area code in 2001 and 251 area code was implemented.
How It Will Be Implemented
Next month the Alabama Public Service Commission will meet with phone companies and NANPA to draft a plan for implementing the 659 area code. It is anticipated that mandatory 10-digit dialing in 205 area will begin sometime in 2019. During the mandatory phase if you forget to dial 10 digits you will hear a recording telling you, you must dial the area code to make the call.
Every city and county within the designated 205 area code boundary will be part of the 659 overlay, but no one will be required to change their number. Once the new area code is implemented. Future numbers may be assigned either with the area code 205 or 659 depending on availability.
It is recommended however that if a business has printed materials, such as stationery or business cards reflecting their seven digit phone number, they will be encouraged to reprint materials to reflect a 10 digit phone number.
So do you want a number with 205 or 659 area code?
Reminds us of the scene from the Sex and the City movie where Carrie Bradshaw was distraught because her new cell phone number began with 347 instead of 917, which made her no longer part of old New York!