The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) is reminding residential and business customers, who are served by the 217 area code, to prepare for the introduction of the new 447 area code.
That means callers will have to dial all 10 digits beginning early next year.
The 447 area code will be added as an overlay to the region currently served by area code 217, to ensure 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 exhaustion of available, unassigned 217 prefixes. An overlay does not require customers to change their existing area code or telephone number.
A six-month permissive dialing period will begin on Saturday, Aug. 29, to give consumers adequate time to adjust to the changes. During that period, local calls can be made with either seven or ten digits. However, customers are encouraged to dial ten digits. Local calls will remain local even though individuals dial ten digits.
Beginning Feb. 27, 2021, mandatory dialing will occur where all local calls made within the Illinois 217 area code will have to be placed using the ten-digit telephone number (area code plus the seven-digit telephone number). Beginning March 21, 2021, new telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers using the new 447 area code.
Current telephone numbers will not change.
Also, customers will need to dial area code plus telephone number for all local calls; consumers will continue to dial “1”, plus the area code, plus the telephone number for all long distance calls; what is a local call now will remain a local call; the price of a call, coverage area or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay; and consumers can still dial just three digits to reach 911. Also three digits may be dialed to reach 211 and 811, as well as 311 and 511, where available.
Remember to identify the telephone number as a ten-digit number (area code plus seven-digit telephone number), and include the area code when giving the number to friends, family, business associates and customers, and more.
Customers should ensure all services, automatic dialing equipment, applications, software or other types of equipment recognize the new 447 area code as a valid area code. Examples include life-safety systems, fax machines, internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, gates, ankle monitors, speed dialers, mobile phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services and similar functions. Be sure to check business stationery, advertising materials, personal checks and personal or pet I.D. tags to ensure the area code is included in the telephone number.
Important safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices and alarm and security systems must be programmed to use ten-digit dialing. Many systems operate on ten-digit dialing by default, but some older equipment may still use seven digits. Contact the medical alert or security provider if unsure whether equipment needs to be reprogrammed to accommodate the upcoming change to ten-digit local dialing. Any needed reprogramming of alarm and home security equipment should be done between Aug. 29, 2020, and Feb. 27, 2021.
Remember all local calls must be programmed using 10 digits, and customers need to add “1” for all long distance calls.
For additional information, visit the ICC website at www.icc.illinois.gov/ or contact the local telephone service provider.