Maine’s congressional delegation wants federal regulators to take steps to preserve 207 as the state’s only area code.

In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, the delegation urged regulators “to explore all available possibilities – of which there are many – to avoid the exhaustion of the 207 area code.”

If no steps are taken, available numbers for the 207 area code are projected to run out in three years, requiring a second area code for the state. In their letter, Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden said that adding another area code would “create substantial inconvenience for consumers and economic costs for businesses.”

The delegation said that only 37 percent of the 207 numbers are now being used, due in part to a system in which phone numbers are allocated to providers in blocks of 1,000. Many numbers in those blocks are unused, the delegation said, particularly in cases where the block is reserved for a small town. If numbers were instead allocated individually, the capacity of the 207 area code could be greatly expanded, they said.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission recently petitioned the FCC to be allowed to issue phone numbers individually, rather than in large blocks.

“In Maine, our single area code is both a cultural touchstone and a matter of efficiency,” the delegation’s letter said, pointing out that most businesses and consumers don’t include the area code when giving out their number. “Maine has had its single area code since 1947, leading 207 to become widely used as shorthand for Maine identity.”

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