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North, Central Georgia receive new phone numbers

POSTED: November 18, 2013 11:40 p.m.

It’s time to hang up on the 678, 706, 770 and 404 telephone area codes.

The North American Numbering Plan Administration, a national organization that manages area codes, will no longer be assigning new numbers to the four area codes that are associated with Atlanta and Northeast Georgia.

Instead, new numbers in metropolitan Atlanta and surrounding areas, including Gainesville, will fall under the 470 area code, while large portions of Central, East, North and West Georgia, which were previously under 706, will now be assigned out of the 762 area code.

“The 470 code overlays the same geographical area as 678 did,” said John Manning, the senior director for NANPA. “That includes metro Atlanta and all of the surrounding areas.”

No existing number will be changed, but new numbers will be assigned with either a 470 or 762 area code based on location, he said.

Each area code can accommodate about 8 million phone numbers, though some will be blacklisted due to similarities to public service numbers such as 911. When that code reaches its maximum, the numbering organization begins rolling out a new relief area code.

“When these area code complexes are exhausted, NANPA will assign new ones,” Manning said, “but we do not make public the area code that will be used to relieve an exhausting area code until the state regulatory authority orders the relief.”

When the maximum number is expected to be reached within 10 years, a new code is chosen based on availability.

The last 706 prefix was assigned on Nov. 8, and the last 404 prefix was assigned on Oct. 13. The 770 and 678 were also exhausted sometime in the last few years.

According to Manning, the primary contributions to the exhaustion are Georgia’s population growth as well as the proliferation of cellphones.

“The metro Atlanta area has been growing, and you can see that with the area codes,” he said. “In 1998 we began 678 and only 12 years later in 2010, we introduced 470.

“It is also impacted by types of telephone devices, wireless growth and, possibly, increasing number of carriers.”

The 706 area code was created six years earlier than 678 and covers a much larger geographic area, though its longevity is partially due to the introduction of a few 762 prefixes in 2006, Manning said.

NANPA expects the 706 and 762 code complex to last for 25 years and the 678, 770 and 470 complex to last for 10, but each area code is different, and predicting viable time frames can be difficult, Manning said.

“For example, the 401 area code in Rhode Island has been in existence since the early 1950s and has never been relieved,” he said. “On the other end of the spectrum are states like California and Florida, where there have been multiple area codes introduced over the years.”

The changes bring the number of area codes in Gainesville to three, the new 470 and the now-exhausted 770 and 678.


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