TALLAHASSEE — State regulators Tuesday approved moving forward with another area code in Palm Beach County, as they prepare to consider adding an area code in Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys.
The moves by the state Public Service Commission reflect Florida’s growing population and cell phones and other technology requiring new numbers.
Commissioners approved a plan to create an additional area code in Palm Beach County because the 561 area code is in jeopardy of running out of numbers.
The commission also announced that it will hold a workshop Dec. 21 about a proposal, filed last week by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, to create an additional area code in Miami-Dade and the Keys. The North American Numbering Plan Administrator is an agency that oversees area codes.
“Florida is growing, we have a growing, modern economy, and that means more telephone numbers,” commission Chairman Gary Clark said before the regulatory panel voted unanimously to approve the Palm Beach County plan.
In both cases, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator requested what is known in the telecommunications industry as an overlay, which means, for example, the new Palm Beach County area code will cover the same territory as the 561 area code, with new customers receiving the new code.
“All existing customers would retain their current area code in the overlay area and would not have to change their telephone numbers,” the Palm Beach County request said. “The implementation of an overlay requires mandatory 10-digit dialing for local calls, including calls within the same (area code).”
The 561 area code began in 1996, and an additional area code, 772, was approved in 2002 because the 561 code was “nearing exhaust,” according to the North American Numbering Plan Administrator. The new Palm Beach County code is projected to meet needs for 23 years.
The request did not specify a number for the new area code but calls for beginning to use it by early 2023.
The newly filed proposal for Miami-Dade County and the Keys would create an overlay for the 305 and 786 area codes. The 305 area code was created in 1947 and originally covered all of Florida, according to the proposal.
The 786 area code was added in Miami-Dade County in 1998 and expanded to the Keys in 2014. The proposal said another area code is needed in the area because numbers are projected to be exhausted by the first quarter of 2024.
The additional area code in Miami-Dade and the Keys would be expected to last 19 years. Its creation is backed by the telecommunications industry.
The industry has undergone massive changes during the past two decades as residents have unplugged traditional phone lines and moved heavily to cell phones and technology such as internet-based calling.
The Federal Communications Commission estimated that, as of June 2019, Florida had nearly 22.1 million wireless subscriptions, up from 21.4 million a year earlier, according to a state report on the telecommunications industry.
In recent years, the Public Service Commission approved a 689 area code in Central Florida, a 448 area code in Northwest Florida and a 656 area code in the Tampa Bay region. Similar to the South Florida plans, they were approved as overlays of existing area codes.