Mar 3, 2014
09:10 AM
Connecticut Today

Finally Used to 860 Area Code? Get Ready for 959 Connecticut (And 475)

Finally Used to 860 Area Code? Get Ready for 959 Connecticut (And 475)

A map created as long ago as 2001, showing the new area codes, is posted online by moving companies and phone providers like AT&T.

Remember the good old days when Connecticut motorists had true blue license plates and we all shared another signifier of our Connecticut residency—the 203 area code?
Life was simple then; we knew who were and so did folks across the country, through two longstanding icons of our identity.

Then came 860, arriving officially in the fall of 1996 followed by elimination of the Connecticut blue license plates in 2000, in favor of the sky blue and whitish plates we use now. (Ever notice those drivers in the true-blue “club” who have the new plate in the back but stubbornly maintain the old plate in the front, and get away with it?)

But when it comes to a different set of numbers—area codes rather than license plates—there won’t be any getting away with it.

According to our New Haven Register colleague Luther Turmelle, state regulators announced Monday morning that another area code would be added this fall as an “overlay” in Connecticut. It’s 959, which sounds so, well, not us?

And there’s more in this sort-of Orwellian story.

Seems that the fact many of us will have to get used to 959 instead of 860 is old news—just like the fact that some of those southwestern Connecticut residents who got to hold onto 203 will have to get used to a new number themselves, 475.

The reason for the addition of both overlay area codes is simple: the state’s running out of phone numbers in the existing area codes.

Interestingly, the depletion of existing numbers took a lot longer than the state thought it would.

A Sept. 13, 1999 decision from the former state Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) said, “Even if the demand for prefixes continued at its 1997 rate, the 860 area would run out of prefixes in June 2000 and the 203 area would run out in August 2000.”

A decade after that decision—in one of many now old references to the impending changes—AT&T posted a warning, “Get Ready to change the way you dial your local Calls in Connecticut ... .”

“To ensure a continuing supply of telephone numbers in the state of Connecticut, the Department of Public Utility Control ordered two Area Code Overlays in Connecticut," AT&T said. "The 475 area code will be added to the area served by 203 and the 959 area code will be added to the area served by 860 in near future.”

Seems like the news is really old news made new by the fact that it’s actually happening, finally.

Whether or not we should like it is in the eye of the beholder—make that caller.

A return to true Connecticut-blue license plates anyone?

Meanwhile, here's what the state announced today.

Connecticut's Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) announces that a new area code will be introduced later this year in Connecticut, in the calling region currently served by the 860 area code. Because of continuing local demand for telephone numbers, remaining unassigned telephone numbers in the 860 area code are expected to be exhausted by the end of 2014. The PURA approved a new area code, 959, to be assigned as an overlay to the 860 region to meet the demand. An overlay is the addition of an area code, in this case 959, to the same geographic region as an existing area code (860). An overlay does not require customers to change their existing area code, personal telephone numbers, or the manner in which they dial local calls.
The PURA has been working since mid-2013 with an industry stakeholder group to oversee the orderly implementation of the new 959 area code. Current plans call for the new 959 area code to go into effect August 30, 2014. After that date, customers requesting new service, an additional line, or in some cases, moving their service may be assigned a number in the new 959 area code.
For most customers, the new area code should have minimal impact:
·         existing telephone numbers, including current area code, will not change;
·         customers will continue to dial area code + telephone number for local calls, and 1 + area code + telephone number for long distance calls;
·         local calling areas will remain the same;
·         prices for calls and coverage areas will not change due to the overlay;
·         customers will still dial services such as 911 (211, 411, 811, etc.) with just three digits.
During and after the transition, customers should continue to identify their telephone number as a ten-digit number (area code + seven digits), and include the area code when giving the number to friends, family, business associates and others. Customers should also ensure that all services, automatic dialing equipment, and other types of equipment recognize 959 as a valid area code. Some examples are life safety systems, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, gates, speed dialers, mobile phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and similar functions. Likewise, customers will be encouraged to check business stationery, advertising materials, personal checks, and personal or pet ID tags to ensure the area code is included in the stated telephone number.
Customers should contact their respective carriers with questions about the new area code, and can check PURA's website ( for periodic updates.


Finally Used to 860 Area Code? Get Ready for 959 Connecticut (And 475)

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