A new phone area code is coming to the Midlands.
Neustar, which has been designated by the federal government as the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) announced Thursday it has reached an agreement with South Carolina’s Public Service Commission to assign the 839 area code for new phones in what’s currently the 803 area code.
“The 803 area code was going to run out of assignable telephone numbers by the end… of 2020,” Neustar general counsel Rich Fruchterman said.
The new 839 code will cover the same geographic area as the 803, stretching from the North Carolina border south of Charlotte and stretching across the Midlands through Columbia, Sumter and Aiken to Georgia. All existing customers will retain the 803 area code and will not need to change their telephone numbers. However, the influx of new numbers means callers will eventually be required to dial the area code for all calls, even local ones.
“It won’t impact who has an existing 803 number beyond requiring them to dial 10 digits to make a local phone call,” state Office of Regulatory Staff telecommunications director Chris Rozycki said.
The move had been anticipated since Neustar first notified the state it was taking steps to add the area code earlier this year. The Charleston Post & Courier first reported Neustar’s announcement on Thursday.
The last major area code change in South Carolina occurred three years ago, when NANPA overlapped 854 for new phones along the 843 zone in the Lowcountry and Pee Dee. The change is now in effect and new residents or businesses have already begun using the 854 code.
Neustar chose the overlay option rather than sharing the 854 number across both areas. The group also did not want to split 803 region in half and assign the new 839 code to half while keeping the other intact.
“It was determined the overlay would be less disruptive (for existing customers),” Fruchterman said. That way current residents would not need to get new phone numbers.
The Upstate’s 864 code is unlikely to change anytime soon, Rozycki said. He added that, while the Greenville region has seen significant growth, the rest of the region remains settled enough that Neustar does not project it will need to add an additional area code until at least 2027.
Neustar is a private company supported by the telecommunications industry which handles the routing of calls across area codes through the NANPA program.