Maybe the coronavirus pandemic will be over by the time this change takes effect.
There are big problems and little ones — this is a little one.
But little irritants can seem bigger than they are when the sword of Damocles is hanging over one’s head.
That’s why this week’s announcement from the Illinois Commerce Commission about 10-digit dialing stands out as another burr under the saddle of the beleaguered people of Illinois.
Here’s the news straight from the horse’s mouth.
“The Illinois Commerce Commission ... remind(s) residential and business customers served by the 217 area code to prepare for the introduction of the new 447 area code. The 447 area code will be added as an overlay to the region currently served by area code 217 to ensure a continuing supply of telephone numbers for the area. An overlay is the addition of another area code (447) to the same geographic region served by an existing area code (217). The ICC ordered an area-code overlay for the 217 area code on Aug. 15, 2006, to be implemented upon the exhaust of available unassigned 217 prefixes. An overlay does not require customers to change their existing area code or telephone number.”
Mandatory 10-digit dialing will begin on Feb. 27, 2021 — roughly six months from today — for all local calls made within the 217 area code.
In the interim, what’s called a “permissive dialing period” begins today — a transition period designed “to give consumers an adequate time to adjust to the changes.”
The idea, apparently, is that practice makes perfect, so it’s time to start practicing dialing 10 digits, even if your number and the one you’re calling have the same area code.
On March 27, 2021, “new telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers using the new 447 area code.”
Who needs this? Well, everyone — if they wish to be able to remain in touch.
What matters most, however, is that it’s unavoidable. There’s no opting out.
People’s numbers and area codes won’t change. People will need to dial the area code to make a local call. People won’t like it, but they’ll get used to it.