A new area code is coming to the region, according to the Illinois Commerce Commission. The new 447 area code will “overlay” the existing 217 area code to address the depletion of prefixes available for assignment within the region. The first prefix in the new area code will not be introduced until after March 29, 2021.
The 217 area code covers 36 counties in Illinois. The 217 area code is one of the original, eighty-six area codes in the United States, assigned by Bell Laboratories in 1947. It has not undergone any substantive changes to its boundaries nor its dialing patterns since 1951.
Neustar, now known as Somos, under contract by the FCC to administer the nation’s telephone numbering resources, originally filed a petition on behalf of the Illinois Telecommunications Industry seeking a new area code for 217 in June of 2001. On March 6, 2007, the ICC approved the addition of area code 447, to be deployed in the geographic area now served by area code 217. The Commission sought to delay implementation for as long as possible. Ongoing conservation efforts have forestalled the need for the new 447 area code until now. While many individual 217 telephone numbers remain unassigned, an area code is deemed to be “exhausted” when the last available prefix has been assigned. While 447 telephone numbers will begin to appear in 2021, there will continue to be an ongoing supply of available 217 telephone numbers in most areas.
Current phone customers will retain the original area code. New telephone customers for local phone service, cellular, paging services, and alarms, assigned in the same area may receive telephone numbers in the new overlay area code beginning in 2021. The new area code will not effect the cost of the call – local calls and toll calls will remain the same.
Prior to the assignment of numbers in the new area code, customers in the 217 area code will have a six-month period time, between August 29, 2020 and February 27, 2021, to adjust to dialing the additional digits to complete their calls, prior to it becoming mandatory. During this period, consumers are encouraged to update their contact lists and auto dialers to include the 10-digit number. After February 27, 2021, all calls must be dialed with the Area Code + Telephone number.