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631 area code relief plan hearings set by Public Service Commission

Assignable 631 area code numbers are expected to

Assignable 631 area code numbers are expected to run out by early 2016. A proposed “overlay" relief approach means new customers would be assigned the new area code and existing customers' numbers would remain the same. Credit: AP / Nam Y. Huh

With assignable phone numbers carrying the 631 area code projected to be depleted by early 2016, the state Public Service Commission is planning four public statement hearings July 15 and 16 in Suffolk County, where residents can comment on two proposed approaches for area code "relief."

The "overlay" approach would have current customers, wireless included, keeping 631, with new customers in the county being assigned the new code "as needed," according to a report dated June 16 from the state Department of Public Service. That would require dialing 10 digits, instead of the present seven, for intracounty calls.

The other option envisions a "geographic split," with Suffolk residents on one side of a line keeping 631 and those on the other making the switch. The line would run through Smithtown and Islip towns, the report said. Which side would retain 631 is yet to be determined.

The hearings are:

July 15 at the Riverhead County Center, Riverhead, with an information forum starting at 1 p.m. and the hearing at 2 p.m.

July 15 at Sachem Public Library in Holbrook, information forum at 6:30 p.m. and the hearing at 7:30 p.m.

July 16 at the William H. Rogers Legislative Building in Smithtown, information forum at 1 p.m. and hearing at 2 p.m.

July 16 at the South Huntington Public Library, Huntington Station, information forum at 6 p.m. and hearing at 7 p.m.

Those wishing to attend need not RSVP or submit written comment ahead of time, the department said in a news release Tuesday. People who need special accommodations should call the department's human resources office collect as soon as possible at 518-474-2520. Sign language interpreters can be made available.

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