The amount of available phone numbers within the 315 area code continues to dwindle, prompting the state's Public Service Commission to look into adding another area code.
The PSC has offered two options for the region, which covers all or part of 18 central and northern New York counties. One plan is to split the zone, with some residents getting a new area code. Another option is to overlay a new area code on top of 315, then issue the new code to new customers. In this scenario everyone would be required to dial the area code, even for next door neighbors.
But state Sen. Patty Ritchie says neither option is appealing right now for the region's customers or small businesses.
"Splitting the county apart and allowing one portion to keep 315 and the other to be reassigned all new numbers, of course, is very problematic," Ritchie said. "If you pick up the phone and you call the person who lives next door and you have to dial 11 digits, and you have to dial 11 digits for every single phone call you make, I think that's a problem too."
Ritchie also says the PSC's effort is ill-timed and should be put on hold.
"By their own figures, there are hundred of thousands of numbers that are still available, maybe a million or more," Ritchie said. "So, this really is no emergency. I think if there was a cause for this to be an emergency, then it might be a different situation."
Since 1985, eight new area codes have been added throughout the state, including cities like Rochester, Buffalo and New York City. The PSC predicts the 315 area will run out of new numbers in early 2015. Comments about the proposed plan are requested by August 16.
A series of public hearings will also be held in Utica on August 5, in Watertown on August 6 and in Syracuse on August 7. Educational forums at each location are scheduled to begin at 2 and 6 p.m. Formal public statement hearings will be held at 3 and 7 p.m., following the forums.