BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The New York State Public Service Commission has approved an additional area code for western New York.

The reason? It’s looking like there could be a shortage of telephone numbers with the 716 area code. The North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) has forecasted this.

In response, the commission says a new area code “is expected to be activated before the second quarter of 2024,” when all available 716 numbers are expected to be used up. Specifically, they say its implementation will take place “six months prior to the projected second quarter of 2024.”

The numbers will be used in portions, or all, of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties. This includes some of the region’s largest cities, like Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

“Because of positive economic growth in western New York, there is a clear need for more
cellular service and other technologies for both home and business,” Commission Chair
Rory M. Christian said. “As a result, an additional telephone area code number is required. The
new area code is necessitated by the expansion of telecommunication services in this region.”

This doesn’t mean people are going to lose their 716 number. The new numbers will be in addition to the current ones. It’s not clear what the new three-digit code is going to be, but the commission says it will be announced at a later date.

“The implementation of a new overlay area code normally requires concurrent implementation of mandatory 10-digit dialing (the three-digit area code and seven-digit telephone number are required to complete a call) for all calls, whether local or longdistance. However, by the time the proposed 716 overlay area code becomes effective, customers in the 716-area code will already have transitioned to mandatory 10-digit dialing due to the national implementation of the “988” three-digit hotline to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” a news release from the commission said.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.