Central Texas set to acquire new area code by July 2013

Max Bridges

Beginning July 2013, some Austin residents may be required to dial an area code other than the well known ‘512’ to reach local areas in the city.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas, a state agency in charge of regulating the state’s electric and telecommunications utilities, drafted an order creating area code 737 at its June 13 meeting to go along with the present 512 area code due to Central Texas’ growing population. The commission will vote on the order, which is expected to pass, at its June 28 open meeting. If passed, Austin will become the fourth area in Texas with multiple area codes serving the same location, joining Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and Northeast Texas.

Terry Hadley, spokesman for the Public Utility Commission of Texas, said the commission anticipates all remaining 512 area codes to run out around September 2013. Hadley said new customers will be assigned the 737 area code beginning July 2013 unless a previous 512 number is given up.

“The three commissioners discussed the proposal during their June 13 open meeting,” Hadley said, referring to Donna Nelson, Kenneth Anderson and Rolando Pablos. “They agreed with the proposal and directed staff to draft an order for [them] to review and vote upon at their next open meeting scheduled for June 28.”

Hadley said the new number was chosen by the North American Numbering Plan Administration, a national organization that tracks the need for new area codes and assigns them. He said there were only a few comments at the May 17 public workshop, a meeting the organization called to discuss the plan to add area code 737.

“None were opposed to a new area code,” Hadley said.

Hadley said he does not expect as much attachment to the 512 area code as residents felt during the recent addition of new area codes in New York City, areas in which some say an area code is more than just a number.

“212 was attractive, perhaps, because it signaled a Manhattan location,” he said. “However, it is becoming less important because more customers today have mobile phones and keep their original area codes when they move around the country.”