COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — The 440 area code is expected to run out of available phone numbers in about two years, according to state regulators, and a new area code is on the way.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on Wednesday approved a plan to overlay a new area code over the existing 440 area code, which is expected to be exhausted in the third quarter of 2024, according to a news release.

After that, new phone subscribers will get the new area code, which has yet to be determined. Those who currently have 440 numbers will keep them and the area code.

Phone subscribers in the 440 area code are already transitioning to 10-digit dialing due to the implementation of 988, the dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Line, according to the release.

The commission has asked telecommunications companies for plans indicating when the overlay will take effect and how they’ll inform customers.

Why is it necessary?

For each area code, there are about 8 million telephone numbers, according to the commission’s Wednesday filing. The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) that sets phone numbers was changed in 1996 to greatly increase the number of available area codes.

The 440 area code was first established in 1997.

Until the 1990s, the phrase ‘area code exhaust’ was nearly nonexistent. Area codes were first introduced over 70 years ago. In the rare event when area code exhaust did occur, there were plenty of area codes remaining to distribute. However, the unimagined boom in telecommunications services that require telephone numbers has drastically altered the future of area codes and indeed even the NANP itself. The increase in second lines, pagers, facsimile machines, cellular telephones, and computer modems resulted in an exponential growth in the demand for telephone numbers.

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio

What about other area codes?

The Cleveland area’s other major area code, 216, isn’t going anywhere, and still has enough numbers to last through the second quarter of 2032, according to an April 2024 analysis by the commission.

Two area codes used in the Youngstown area, 234 and 330, will also last until the first quarter of 2035, the commission expects.

Cincinnati’s 513 area code, however, is the next to be exhausted, running out of numbers by the end of 2023.