Do the numbers 475 and 959 sound familiar? If they don’t yet, they likely will in the relatively near future. There was a time, long ago but not far away, when residents in the entire state of Connecticut shared one Numbering Plan Area, better known as an area code. All across Connecticut, it was 203. Then, after about 50 years, it became more complicated.
First, with advances in technology and the exponential growth of communications devices, the state was split into two area codes in 1995, with Fairfield and New Haven counties retaining 203, and the other six counties shifting to the new 860.
But that quickly proved to be insufficient. Within the past decade, two “overlay” area codes were added. Beginning in December 2009, residents or businesses in the 203 area code could be assigned a 475 area code. And telephone customers in the 860 area could be assigned the 959 area codes as of August, 2014.
Commonly known as an area code, an NPA is the first three digits of a 10-digit North American phone number. In areas that have run out of phone numbers and a new area code has been introduced, some – including Connecticut - have chosen to overlay the new area code over the same area as the old one, instead of splitting the area in half. This avoids anyone having to change area codes, but does require that everyone in that region dial all ten digits for each call.
According to the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), which has jurisdiction for assigning area codes (Numbering Plan Areas) in Connecticut and beyond, as of June 30, 2017 telephone carriers reported approximately 57,000 numbers have been assigned using the 959 area codes, and nearly ten times that number, 523,000, have been assigned the 475 area code in Fairfield and New Haven counties. The numbers are assigned to carriers, who then dole them out to customers.
One of them is the Odyssey Early Learning and Enrichment Program in Norwalk, assigned a 475 number. The New Haven Public Schools Office of Choice & Enrollment also was provided a 475 number, in the midst of all the 203’s across the city. In Bridgeport, St. Vincent’s Medical Center Federal Credit Union has introduced customers to their 475 area code phone number. The Hartford Correction Center began using a 959 area codes in January, and the UConn School of Social Work received a 959 number when they relocated to Hartford this year.
So, don’t be surprised if a new neighbor or a local businesses shares a phone number with an unfamiliar prefix. It’s the wave of the future, and it’s here now.
It is still possible for the “old” 203 and 860 prefixes to be assigned to new customers by the carriers. NANPA reports that there remain 200 blocks of one thousand numbers that may still be provided to various carriers for them to assign to customers.
Of course as reliance on land lines continues to diminish and people tend to keep their cellular phone numbers as the relocate across the country, the connection between where a person lives and the telephone area code becomes less meaningful. But for land lines in Connecticut what was once one area code is now four. At least for the immediate future.