Tampa and Hillsborough adds new 656 area code

For over 65 years, the Tampa-Hillsborough area has been synonymous with the 813 area code. That is about to change.

On Thursday, the State of Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) announced a new area code for Hillsborough County: 656.

The county’s new 656 area code overlaps with the same geographic boundaries as the current 813 area code and was approved by the PSC in March.

statement says the purpose of the new area code is to extend the supply of telephone numbers in that area.

“Existing customers will keep their numbers, but as 813 area code numbers are exhausted, new customers, or customers adding additional lines, will receive the new area code,” the PSC wrote.

“656 is easy to remember, and customers will also find the approved overlay plan easy to implement,” said PSC Chairman Gary Clark. “Existing telephone numbers will not change, and the six-month permissive dialing period will allow time for customers to adjust to 10-digit dialing. It is critical that businesses and individuals have access to new phone numbers when they need them, especially during the current emergency.”

Yes, that’s right – 10 digit dialing.

To prepare for 10-digit dialing, the PSC encourages residents to ensure that all relevant equipment recognize the new 656 area code as a valid area code and to begin programming 10-digit telephone numbers.  Examples of such equipment are life safety systems and medical monitoring devices, stored telephone numbers in mobile and cordless phones, PBXs, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, safety alarm and security systems and gates, speed dialers, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and similar functions.

Full statement from the PSC is below.

Image by antonynjoro from Pixabay

PSC statement:

A new 656 area code has been announced for the Hillsborough County area that will cover the same geographic boundaries as the current 813 area code. Approved in March by the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC), the area code overlay will extend the supply of telephone numbers in that area.

Existing customers will keep their numbers, but as 813 area code numbers are exhausted, new customers, or customers adding additional lines, will receive the new area code.  Everyone will have to dial the area code plus the seven-digit phone number to make local calls (10-digit dialing).

“656 is easy to remember, and customers will also find the approved overlay plan easy to implement,” said PSC Chairman Gary Clark. “Existing telephone numbers will not change, and the six-month permissive dialing period will allow time for customers to adjust to 10-digit dialing. It is critical that businesses and individuals have access to new phone numbers when they need them, especially during the current emergency.”

To prepare for 10-digit dialing, the PSC encourages residents to ensure that all relevant equipment recognize the new 656 area code as a valid area code and to begin programming 10-digit telephone numbers.  Examples of such equipment are life safety systems and medical monitoring devices, stored telephone numbers in mobile and cordless phones, PBXs, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, safety alarm and security systems and gates, speed dialers, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and similar functions.

Phone numbers in Florida and throughout the United States are governed by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA). In April 2019, NANPA forecasted a need for 813 area code relief.  An industry meeting was held in September 2019, and NANPA then filed a petition with the PSC favoring the “all-services distributed overlay plan.”  Workshops were held in February 2020 by the PSC in Tampa and St. Petersburg to hear from affected customers.

For more information about the area code changes, residents can contact their local telephone carrier or call the PSC’s customer assistance line at 1-800-342-3552.

For additional information, visit www.floridapsc.com.

Follow the PSC on Twitter, @floridapsc.

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