Next month Suffolk County residents will have to start dialing their 631 area code even when calling phone numbers that share their area code, according to telephone service providers.
Starting June 18, Long Island callers will have to dial all 10 digits instead of the core seven digits that make up phone numbers. The change is in advance of phone companies starting to assign a new 934 area code for Suffolk starting July 16. Those who currently have 631 area code numbers will keep their current phone numbers.
“Given the reality of the way we communicate today, a new area code is needed to expand the numbers that are available,” said Audrey Zibelman, chair of the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC).
The new area code rollout is called an overlay, meaning 631 and 934 will both be used for Suffolk. The alternative is known as a geographic split, which is what happened on Long Island in 1999 when Suffolk residents had to change their phone numbers to 631 while Nassau residents kept their 516 area code numbers.
The change includes business, residential and wireless phone customers, regardless of their service provider. Those in Suffolk who don’t dial 631 when calling those that share their area code will hear a recording instructing them to hang up and dial again, according to the phone companies.
The PSC held public hearings to gather local residents’ opinions on the change two years ago after the North American Numbering Plan, which provides the basic numbering scheme for telephone networks in the United States, warned that Suffolk was running out of combinations of 631 area code phone numbers. PSC officials have said that phone number options began dwindling partly because of the increase in cell phone users.
The overlay should supply Suffolk with enough phone numbers for 45 years, officials have said. If a geographic split was chosen, the proposed dividing line would have gone through the western Suffolk towns of Islip and Smithtown.