The Gem State is about to get a new area code.
Beginning in late 2017, new phone numbers issued in Idaho will begin with the 986 area code. It will be the first new area code in Idaho since 208 was adopted in 1947.
At the recommendation of telecommunication providers and Idaho Public Utilities Commission staff, the PUC agreed to implement the area code to new phone numbers—called a "geographic overlay." A second, rejected, option would have been to divide the state geographically, assigning the new area code regionally.
Under the new system, Idahoans will have to use all 10 digits to make calls, regardless of their location.
Neustar, the agency administering the nation's area code system, had indicated Idaho would run out of viable phone numbers in August 2001, but the PUC used a variety of plans to delay the depletion of phone numbers until 2017.
The West Virginia Public Service Commission faced the need for a new area code in 2008, adopting to split the state geographically between area codes. It ultimately reversed its decision citing adverse economic impacts, including businesses changing advertising, web pages, letterhead and business cards.