Here is who will be impacted by New Jersey’s next area code

 The 640 area code will be introduced to New Jersey in 2018. (Jana Shea/ for Newsworks)

The 640 area code will be introduced to New Jersey in 2018. (Jana Shea/ for Newsworks)

0new-640-addedMaking phone calls will change in a big way for New Jersey next year.

Beginning on Sept 17, 2018 new telephone customers in the state’s 609 area code region will instead get a 640 area code.  After six-decades we’re about to run out of unique 10 digit numbers that start with 609.

Your cell phone is a big reason why this is happening a year earlier than anticipated.

“The sheer number of devices supplied has accelerated beyond what was expected,” shared Richard Mroz, President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The board approved adding the new area code this spring after learning of the imminent 609 area code exhaustion.

The 411 on your digits

Area codes are just one part of how phone calls get routed within a service territory using the North American Numbering Plan (NAPN), the system which enables telephone users to place calls to one another without help from a switchboard operator.

Every phone in the numbering plan is identified with its own unique 10-digit number comprised of an area code, a three-digit central office code (also known as prefix or exchange), and a four-digit subscriber number.

Area code exhaustion occurs when the number of prefixes assigned to telecommunication providers runs out. This shortage is forecasted by a project exhaustion date.

It’s no surprise to NeuStar Inc. that the 609 area code project exhaustion date was bumped forward a year.

The company administers the numbering plan on behalf of the Federal Communications Commission and is seeing increased consumer demand for telephone numbers across the nation, not just in New Jersey.

Most households now have multiple mobile devices where once only a single landline existed. Today’s businesses often operate not only with more than one phone number, but many owners and employees also have separate wireless devices for business use. Add to that machine to machine (or M2M) use.

Population growth is also a factor, though less so in the 609 area code.

All these things coming together escalate area code exhaustion. But it’s the proliferation of wireless devices that is driving demand, explained John Manning, Senior Director of the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA) for NeuStar.

Who will be impacted

The state’s 10th area code will be an overlay. This means the new 640 code will serve the exact same geographic region covered by ye olde 609 area code — that is, central and southeastern New Jersey from Lambertville to Cape May.

Overlay is considered the least disruptive and will not create a geographic split, as occurred in 1999 when the introduction of the 856 area code meant the western portion of South Jersey got its own separate area code.

So, current customers will keep their existing 609 numbers while new phone lines will receive the 640 code.

Phasing in the new code

Another change will be that current 609 customers will have to convert to 10-digit calling, even for local calls.

Changes will be phased in over 15 months.

NeuStar began both network preparation and customer education process last month. In January, there will be a permissive dialing period where customers may dial calls within the 609 area code using either a seven-digit or 10-digit number. Mandatory 10-digit dialing begins August 2018.

The 640 area code is expected to last 46 years before phone numbers are again exhausted.

0 highly-detailed-map-of-40

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal