PUC approves plan for new ‘overlay’ in 814 area code

From staff reports

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission voted 4-0 Thursday to approve a year-long implementation plan leading to the start of a new “overlay” for the current 814 area code.

The 814 area code covers all or parts of 27 counties across central and northwestern Pennsylvania.

Under the overlay plan, a new area code will be assigned to the same geographic area currently covered by the 814 area code.

In the future when no more 814 telephone numbers are available numbers from the new area code will be assigned to customers, according to a press release from the PUC.

This preserves existing phone numbers for residents and businesses in the region, while also ensuring that a supply of new numbers will be available for decades to come, the press release said.

“First and foremost, it is important for residents and businesses throughout the 814 area code to understand that there will be no change in their telephone service,” PUC chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille said. “The proposal approved by the Commission today ensures that customers currently using 814 telephone numbers will keep their existing numbers, and the PUC is launching a year-long education campaign to help everyone prepare for a second ‘local’ area code in the region,” Dutrieuille added.

The PUC said the biggest adjustment for residents will be the eventual switch to “10-digit dialing” – where callers will be required to dial the area code plus the seven-digit telephone number for all calls.

To help consumers and businesses in the region adjust to the upcoming change, the PUC has approved a timetable to implement the new overlay area code, including the following key dates:

Oct. 1, 2020 – Residents and businesses are encouraged to voluntarily start 10-digit dialing for calls in the 814 area code.

April 1, 2021 – 10-digit dialing will be required for all calls.

May 1, 2021 – The new overlay area code will be placed into service.

The 814 area code was established in 1947 and is one of Pennsylvania’s four original area codes. It includes all of Forest and Jefferson counties and most of Venango, Clarion, Crawford and Mercer counties.

It is the largest area code in the state and the last to undergo changes because existing phone numbers have been exhausted, the PUC said.