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Hold the Phone: Many Upset by Possibility of 2nd Maine Area Code

"Everyone refers to Maine as 'the 207,' it's how we identify ourselves, really": Some Mainers are apprehensive of the idea that an additional area code could eventually be needed in the state

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Like New Hampshire and Vermont, Maine still only has one area code.

For many, the "207" at the front of every local phone number in the state is part of Maine's brand. But the Pine Tree State may have to make room for more preferred numbers.

"It's been bubbling," said Phil Bartlett, chair of Maine's Public Utilities Commission. "Phone numbers are issued in thousand-number blocks to providers, and what's happened is we're simply running out of those thousand-number blocks to issue."

According to Bartlett, that means Maine will run out of 207 phone numbers to issue by late 2024.

For lifelong Mainers like Rebecca Mahar, who lives in Portland but is originally from rural Washington County, every effort should be made to prevent that from happening.

"It's not something you can just change," she said. "Everyone refers to Maine as 'the 207,' it's how we identify ourselves, really."

Rob Tod, founder of Allagash Brewing Company, agrees.

"It means a lot, Mainers really identify with 207," he said.

To that end, Bartlett and the Maine PUC are preparing to ask the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates how phone numbers are issued, for a policy change.

Maine's communication leaders want to try what they're calling "instant" number issuing, so phone companies can be given small amounts of phone numbers at a time.

"Give us this pilot program," said Bartlett, when asked what he would say to the FCC to make his case. "The reality is only about 39 percent of the numbers are used, let us try to do instant numbering, show that I can work and see if that can sustain our area code."

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