- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 11, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho regulators say the state will get a second area code as soon as 2017, which will require 10-digit dialing for the first time throughout the state.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission announced Tuesday that the state’s telecommunication providers are requesting a 16-month implementation process for a second area code.

Officials say that without a new area code, Idaho’s signature 208 area code will run out of numbers in mid-2018.

“We’re not expecting a lot of change, especially for people who have programmable phones,” commission spokesman Gene Fadness said.

Fadness added that Idaho will likely adopt a new area code that will overlay existing 208 users rather than split the state into two divisions to assign the new number. This means that veteran Idahoans would get to keep their 208 numbers, but all new numbers would be given the new three-digit area code.

Currently, Idaho is one the declining number of states with just one area code. Out of the 12 states with just one area code, six are weighing proposals to add a second: Idaho, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

This isn’t the first time Idaho has been warned the 208 numbers are becoming akin to an endangered species. In 2001 Idaho officials began receiving warnings that the 2008 pool would quickly drain, but two major conservation efforts helped maintain the 208 area code until the commission was recently alerted by the federal government.

The Public Utilities Commission will begin a new round of public outreach and accept public comments through Oct. 6.

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