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A New Area Code Available in the 309 Region

Image provided by Bryanbethea, WikiMedia Commons

A new area code will be available for west-central Illinois beginning today.

However, George Light, Engineering Analysis for the Illinois Commerce Commission, says it is unlikely that anyone will receive the new 8-6-1 area code anytime soon.

"It's there it's ready, we've taken the ribbon off the box but we don't need to take the pieces out yet. So it's there waiting for when it's needed."

The Illinois Commerce Commission began planning to assign a new area code about two years ago, when it saw the the dwindling number of available prefixes. A prefix is the first three digits for a seven digit number, and is considered "exhausted" when the last one has been assigned.

Light says the new area code does not add any tolls, or change the way you dial.

"It allows everyone to keep their existing phone number, all it does is augment the existing supply. No one's phone number is changing. And ever since last year when the 988 suicide prevention code went into place, everyone has to dial the full 10 digit number, so that's not changing either. "

Although there are plenty of numbers still available with the 309 area code, Light says residents should be aware that if they see a call coming from an 861 number, that it is coming from the same area of Illinois.