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Area Code Overlay Recommended for Southern Indiana

Indiana's utility consumer advocate is recommending that regulators establish a new telephone area code that would overlap the existing 812 code that covers roughly the southern third of the state.The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor said Thursday that similar overlay area codes are either used or being implemented in 24 states.The state utility regulatory commission says the 812 area code is on pace to run out of available numbers in 2015. The commission is expected to decide by the end of this year whether to geographically split the area or implement Indiana's first overlay.Under the overlay system, new phones would receive the new area code while current users get to keep their numbers. But people and businesses in the same neighborhood could have different area codes.Officials have been holding public hearings on the available options.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.