Area Codes

America has regional divisions that match with special numeric codes, and these are known as area codes. The area code is usually the three-digit number that singles out a particular phone service area in the US. When placing a call to a different city, town, or state from your location, you will need a number that incorporates the three-digit area code. These codes apply to all calls, including calls to a colleague up the road, family members, or businesses outside the country. Initially, the objective of these codes was to enable direct ring up for long-distance phone calls. These assigned area-specific codes help automate telephone calls across the country without utilizing operational staff to connect you.

A Brief History of Area Codes in the States

AT & T and Bell communications research facilities commenced work on area-specific codes in the 1940s, establishing the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) in 1947. The NANP covered Canada and the US to incorporate the area codes and central office (CO) exchange codes in the area lightly known as North America. This NANP divides the territories of its members into numeric plan areas (NPAs). The area code structure segregated North America into different numeric plan zones.

The phone apparatus depended on people to physically operate the machines and plug calls at the advent. Individuals functioned as connection operators, routing calls to the chosen destination as the system lacked automation in its early stages. Phone numbers then constituted alpha-numeric objects coined after an area’s specific phone exchange code. There was always the possibility of errors with this method. Subsequently, the priority was risk minimization, producing a modern and further advanced design. In the early 1940s, the officials at the Bell system presented a new and effective way of connecting phones; this was the birth of Area-specific codes as we now know them. The all-new structure allowed operators to use area codes as connection codes in 1947. From that time, things evolved steadily. 

In 1951, Englewood’s mayor, Leslie Denning, was the first to make a direct long-distance call. The record-breaking call was to Frank Osborn. The latter was Alameda’s mayor. Furthermore, in 1955, the authorities introduced more improved features to the system, and phone interconnectivity improved rapidly. Eventually, it was time for a system that didn’t require or depend on individuals to operate. Hence, the all-number system came into existence.

The evolving of area codes

The pioneer state in getting an area-specific telephone code was New Jersey was; the state’s code was 201. The bigger cities in the mid-60s thoroughly applied the area-specific code structure all over. Furthermore, in the 1990s, there was the need to accommodate the growing demand for more phones. Some area codes began to add a second code for nearby calls. Placing calls via the area code and the seven-digit number was essential to guarantee that the call reached the intended receiver. As telephone users grew, area codes began to run out of seven-digit numbers to assign. A second area code became imminent, requiring that the area transits to ten-digits dialing. Ten-digit dialing is essential because two separate houses in the same region can have an identical seven-digit telephone number. Still, each will possess a different area code.

Understanding Area Codes

Some area-specific codes in America came about as an upshot of a geographic division. A geo split separates an area code into various areas, with each zone getting its unique code.

As of now, America as a country uses 335 area codes; 317 are location-specific, and 18 are not location-bound. The US uses up to 335/380 of the codes allotted in the plan. There are more area-specific codes in California than in any other state, having 36 codes. There are 28 area codes in Texas, and 19 codes are unique to New York. Florida is also among the states with multiple area codes, and it has 18 codes. Some states have just one area code, including Maine and both North and South Dakota. Other States with just one statewide code include Alaska, Rhode Island, and Montana. Some of the codes that are independent of region or location used in the United States include 456, 527, 544, 577, 700,800, 844, 866, 888, and 900.

You can look up any of the above digits to find that they are not location-specific, unlike the other area-specific codes.

When allocating area-specific codes, the places with high population densities received lower digits. The regions with smaller populations got higher numbers. New York City was allotted 212, and Philadelphia got 215. Similarly, Chicago received 312, and Los Angeles received 213. The lesser populated areas got higher digits; for instance, Salt Lake City got 801. Some states have just one or two area codes, while some have more. For example, Alabama has 205, 251, 256, 334, 659, and 936 as area codes, while New Hampshire has just 603. States in the US can incorporate brand new area codes, and they can only achieve this under the authorization of the apex communications agency of the United States, The (FCC). The FCC is responsible for managing and administering area-specific phone numbers and corresponding codes.

The NANPA currently includes 25 member counties. The plan covers the United States, US territories, some Caribbean countries, and Canada. All foreign domains under the numbering system of North America carry +1 as their country code, so it is not unusual for Canada to have the same country code as the United States. The US and Canada are in Zone 1 of the numbering schedule of North America. 

About Overlays

When a region/city/town exhausts the numbers allocated to its area code, the FCC gives that city, town, or region an overlay code. Meaning one town or city can have more than one area code. An overlay plan is a telephone numbering schedule that assigns several area codes to a geo numbering plan area. Overlay area codes are extra area codes assigned to a definite place that follows the exact city boundaries. This system exists to prevent the exhaustion of telephone numbers as central office code in growing areas. When areas no longer have new phone number combinations in that area code, they will include an overlay. 

Toll-Free Area Codes

Toll-free numbers are unique three-digit numbers. Individuals can dial toll-free numbers from landlines at no charge to the person placing the call. They are prevalent for customer service calls. Emergency numbers such as 911 are toll-free numbers.