Your Next Idaho Phone Number Might Not Start With 208

By Emilie Ritter Saunders

Your next Idaho phone number might not start with 208. That’s right, Idaho is on the verge of an area code shortage.  Idaho is one of a dozen states with just one area code, but that will likely change six years from now.

The Idaho PUC estimates Idaho will run out of 208 telephone numbers by 2019. [Emilie Ritter Saunders]The North American Numbering Plan says Idaho has fewer than one million 208 telephone numbers left. Carolee Hall is the Idaho Public Utilities Commission’s self-described number cop.

Hall: “People love their phone numbers.”

The state faced a 208 area code shortage back in 2007. It was estimated then Idaho would run out of phone numbers with its single-area code by now – but Hall says phone number conservation – yes, that’s a thing – kicked in.  The state changed the way it assigns numbers, opening up more 208 combinations.

When Idaho runs out of 208, it will have two options – divide the state geographically and give everything outside of Boise a new area code. Or, go with something the FCC calls an area code overlay.

Hall: “It’ll be 208 for the veterans of Idaho and it will be something new for the businesses and people coming into the state.”

The 208 phone number Hall has had for 35 years would stay the same, but any new residents would get a different area code. A second area code would mean a shift to 10-digit dialing.

Photo: The Idaho PUC estimates Idaho will run out of 208 telephone numbers by 2019. [Emilie Ritter Saunders]

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