Dial 986: Idaho's New Area Code 

Ten-digit dialing will begin in November and be mandatory effective August 2017.


Ten-digit dialing will begin in November and be mandatory effective August 2017.

When Idaho's Public Utilities Commission announced in the fall of 2015 that it was preparing to introduce a second area code to the Gem State—986—with a launch date of late 2017, the news garnered plenty of headlines. Though not much has been said about the change since, the PUC wants to remind Idahoans that the new area code, which will require 10-digit dialing, is fast approaching.

In the planning stages, PUC took public comments and more than half of the Idahoans who wrote letters asking for a geographic split, with half of the state retaining the old area code and half assuming the new one. The PUC pushed back, saying it would cause major disruption. Instead, the PUC adopted a "geographic overlay," which will assign the new area code any newly issued phone number statewide.

The geographic overlay will require all Idaho customers to dial 10 digits, a change that "will eventually drive seven-digit dialing into obsolescence," according to the PUC. Voluntary 10-digit dialing will begin in November, becoming mandatory in August 2017.

In anticipation of the change, the PUC will hold a series of public workshops across the state. In the Treasure Valley, the workshop will be at the PUC's Boise headquarters at 472 W. Washington St., on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m.

Other workshops will be held in Lewiston (Wednesday, Aug. 10), Coeur d'Alene (Thursday, Aug. 11), Pocatello (Tuesday, Sept. 27) and Twin Falls (Wednesday, Sept. 28).

But PUC officials want to be clear: the workshops are intended to explain the new area code, not to debate the pending change.

"Because the commission has already made its final determination...these workshops will be informational in nature and not an opportunity to discuss alternatives," warned a PUC statement.

Meanwhile, more information is available at puc.idaho.gov.

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