AUSTIN -- The three numbers representing Austin had a good run. For more than 60 years, the greater Austin area often went by its area code of 512. Now, Austin's growth is giving it some competition. There's more people, more traffic, and now more numbers.
"I think that's just part of life these days," said Austin resident Jannette Keating. "You just have to be open to change."
That's at least if you live in the Austin area. The migration to the Capitol City over the last decade will soon be felt every time you dial.
"Now the time has come we need more phone numbers and as a result, a new area code," said Terry Hadley with the Public Utility Commission.
That means next year good old 512, will be joined by 737.
"Sounds like an airplane," laughed one man.
"If it changes it changes, it's not that big of a deal," said Wes Traver.
The truth is, 512 numbers have been in short supply for years. Each area code can handle about eight million numbers before a new one needs to be created. The Public Utility Commission credits the change to technology.
"While the number of residential landlines are decreasing, it's more than offset by the vast increase in cell phone numbers and businesses coming to Central Texas," explained Hadley.
The 512 area code covers 19 counties: Travis, Williamson, Hays, Burnet, Lampasas, Caldwell, Bastrop, Lee, Milam, Mills, Coryell, San Saba, Bell, Fayette, Guadalupe, Comal, Blanco, Llano and Burleson.
You can see a map of the area code coverage below:
Current customers will keep 512. Any new phones, landlines and cell phones, will be assigned 737.
The change won't come as easy for local brewer Sam Kreitner. The three digits mean a bit more.
"It indicates an area code, but it's also our product, and that's what we are; we are 512 Brewery," said Kreitner.
Still 737 means Kreitner and every customer will have to dial 10 digits -- the area code and the number, for any call.
The 737 area code won't be activated until July of next year. However, the earlier you ask your phone provider for a specific 737 number, the more likely you are to get it.
The remaining available numbers in the 512 area code are forecast to last until late 2013.
The Public Utility Commission (PUC) will host a public meeting where you can add your input on this change. It will be in Austin on Thursday, May 17 at 9:30 a.m. in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room on the seventh floor of the Travis Building located at 1701 N. Congress Avenue.
If you are unable to attend the public meeting, you can contact the PUC by calling 1-888-782-8477 (1-888-PUC-TIPS) toll-free, or by e-mailing the PUC at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can write to the PUC at PUC Office of Customer Protection, P.O. Box 13326, Austin, TX 78711-3326.
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