Friday, April 25, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Southern Nevada telephone numbers are about to get a little longer.
Starting May 3, local callers must dial the area code followed by the seven-digit telephone number. The change is tied to the introduction of Clark County’s new 725 area code, which will begin being assigned in June.
The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada approved the second area code — called an “overlay” because it will serve the same geographic region as the 702 area code — in November 2012.
Only about 8 percent of 702 telephone numbers remain available, hence the need for a second area code in this region, said Joe Cocke, senior area code relief planner for the North American Numbering Plan Administration. NANPA is the entity that coordinates telephone numbering in 20 North American countries.
NANPA recommended the commission adopt the all-services overlay rather than splitting Clark County into two area codes, Cocke said. With an overlay, existing customers do not have to change their area code, and the cost of local calls does not change, he said.
As Las Vegas and its surrounding metro area grew, it was only a matter of time before the region warranted an additional area code. The new 725 area code is expected to supply telephone numbers for 25 years, officials said.
Many major cities, such as Denver, Salt Lake City and west Los Angeles, already have overlays, Cocke said. San Francisco plans to implement an overlay area code soon.
Four states — Oregon, Maryland, West Virginia and Connecticut — require 10-digit dialing in all locations because of overlay area codes, he said.
NANPA officials chose a new area code that doesn’t confuse customers in the region or conflict with an existing prefix, Cocke said. A prefix is the first three numbers of any seven-digit telephone number.
And because Nevada is known as a gambling mecca, many customers suggested a 777 area code, which was denied because that number is reserved as an easy-to-remember code for special purposes.
“It’s a common theme we get when we do area code relief in Nevada,” Cocke said.
Officials said customers should begin getting in the habit of dialing 10-digit numbers and reprogram all automatic dialing equipment, such as fax machines and call-forwarding systems.