South Carolina could very likely gain a new area code by the end of 2015.
The South Carolina Public Service Commission posted a petition on its website from the group responsible for coordinating area codes in the U.S. The petition by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator calls for relief in the state’s fast-growing 843 region along the coast and Pee Dee. The NANPA predicts phone numbers will run out in the 843 region within the next two years without the change.
The proposal offered by NANPA would create a “distributed overlay.” In other words, those who currently have 843 area code phone numbers would not have to change, but new customers would have a different code. The petition does not specify what the new number would be.
However, all callers in the 843 region would have to begin dialing the full area code for all local calls (meaning a 10-digit number, rather than the normal 7 for local calls).
NANPA handles the routing of calls across area codes. It is run by the telecommunications firm Neustar.
The commission has scheduled a hearing for December 3 in Columbia.
South Carolina operated under a single 803 area code until 1995, when the Upstate split into the new 864 area code. In 1998, the areas south and east of the Midlands region began using the 843 area code.
The NANPA petition predicts the new code will be able to cover all new phone numbers in the region for 28 years.