Residents of the 814 area code got a reprieve with the Public Utility Commission's decision to throw out a plan to provide more telephone numbers for the region.
But how long that reprieve lasts remains to be seen.
In 2009, the PUC began examining ways to address an expected shortage of telephone numbers in the 814 area code. The growth of cellphones and facsimile machines was gobbling up the supply of available numbers.
The two main options were to split the current 814 area, forcing some customers to use a new area code, or to do an overlay with two area codes serving the same space. That would mean customers would have to dial the area code for all calls, even to their next-door neighbor.
There are obvious inconveniences to both strategies.
About 18 months ago, the PUC voted to split the 814 area and forced those in the northwestern portion to use a new three-digit code. Not surprisingly, those customers didn't like the idea and quickly appealed.
All of that has gone away with the latest PUC action.
New information says the 814 area code now has enough available numbers to meet demand until mid-2018. That means we won't have to deal with this issue for at least a few more years.
However, barring some change, a lack of numbers in the 814 area code seems destined to rise again as a problem.
We only hope that once again we will be the lucky ones to keep the 814 area code.
- Altoona Mirror