Area Code Exhaustion

Overview

An area code is the first 3 digits of a standard 10-digit telephone number. For example, in the PSC’s official number 608-266-5481, the “608” is the area code. Wisconsin currently has six area codes in service: 262, 414, 608, 715, 534 and 920. Two new area codes, 274 and 353, have been planned for but are not yet in service.  

View the Wisconsin Area Code Map

As area codes run out of numbers, a condition known as area code “exhaust”, new area codes will have to be implemented. An area code reaches exhaust when all of the available central office codes (the three numbers after the area code in a telephone number) within that area code have been assigned. Currently, two area codes are approaching exhaust, and the Commission has ordered the North American Number Planning Administration (NANPA) to implement new area codes for each of these areas. ​​

Area Code Relief

​When area codes exhaust, new area codes are created. The new codes are “overlays,” meaning that the new area code will serve, or “overlay,” the same area served by the existing code. All customers in the area will keep their existing numbers – the new area code will only be used for new customers. 

For example, as the 920 area code (covering much of southwest Wisconsin) exhausts, the new 274 area code will become active. All existing 920 customers will keep their numbers, but when providers need new central office codes, those central office codes will be from 274, and new customers will have​​​ phone numbers starting with 274 instead of 920. A similar process is happening in the 608 area code, to implement the new 353 area code.​

The process to create and activate a new area code generally takes about 9 months. This includes planning and implementation, then a lot of testing to ensure that all providers, worldwide, can correctly route calls to that new area code, and that the call go through. Information on the exhaustion relief process for the 920 area code can be found in docket 5-TN-106. ​Information on the 608/353 process can be found in docket 5-TN-112​.​

Area Code Relief Projected Exhaust Dates

The rapid growth in demand for telephone numbers, driven in part by the "Internet of things", is leading to exhaustion for some Wisconsin area codes. ​​The NANPA forecasts area code exhaustions. Here are the most recent, and prior forecasts for Wisconsin’s area codes.​

Area 
Code​
​​2022
Forecast
​2021
Forecast
​2020
Forecast
​2019
Forecast
​2018
Forecast
​262
2031​​2039
​2041
​2044
​2048
​414
​2046
​2049
​(none)*
​​(none)*
​​(none)*
​608 / 353
2024**​​2025
​2025
​2027
​2027
​715 / 534
​2054
​2071
​​(none)*
​​(none)*
​​(none)*
​920 / 274
​2023**​
​2027
​2028
​2026
​2031

* If the forecasted exhaust date is more than fifty years out, the NANPA does not release a forecast.
** These forecasts do not include the numbers which will become available once the new 274 and 353 area codes are placed in service, which should happen in 2023.

​​More Information

Specific questions pertaining to your telephone service should be directed to your local servi​​ce provider at the number printed on your billing statement, or you can contact your cellular provider by dialing 611 on your cell phone​. 

General questions about numbering and area codes may be directed to Peter Jahn by e-mail at Peter.Jahn@wisconsin.gov or by calling (608) 267-2338.