New area code in works for Western Kentucky

FRANKFORT — Some residents of Western Kentucky could soon get a new area code.

The Public Service Commission, which regulates all utilities, has begun proceedings that will lead to a new area code in all or a portion of area code 270, which covers Western Kentucky from Bowling Green to Paducah.

The North American Numbering Plan Administrator, which oversees phone numbers and area codes, has projected that the 270 area code will run out of numbers by the first quarter of 2014, according to a news release from the commission.

The PSC is considering two options for creating the new area code. The first would allow for an overlay of area code 364 in the same territory covered by 270. Under that scenario, no existing phone numbers would change. New numbers would be issued with the 364 area code. The drawback is people will have to dial the area code and the local number for all calls.

The second option is to split 270 and assign area code 364 to a portion of the 270 territory. A split would require roughly half of the people in the area code to get a new phone number, including mobile phone users in that area code.

PSC spokesman Andrew Melnykovych said the vast majority of new area codes have been created via overlays.

"Manhattan has three overlays," he said. "Most major cities have overlays."

The commission will hold public comment hearings in Western Kentucky in October. Those hearing dates and locations will be announced in early October. A decision on how to add the new area code should be made by the end of the year, Melnykovych said.

This isn't the first time the PSC has considered adding an area code for Western Kentucky.

The issue first surfaced in 2001, when NANPA suggested numbers in the area code may be running out. In May 2007, because of those concerns, the commission ordered the creation of the 364 area code in the western half of the 270 area code. Those plans were put on hold several times, though, because of a decrease in demand for phone numbers and a change in the way phone numbers were assigned.

The last area code to be created in Kentucky was 859 in 2000.