It's official. Suffolk County is getting a second area code.
The state Public Service Commission Thursday approved the second code to "provide additional much-needed phone numbers for new residents and businesses," according to a news release from the commission.
The new code -- yet to be determined -- is to be activated before the third quarter of 2016, officials said.
The move comes after a public comment period of about four months.
"Years ago, most families would have a single telephone number," Commission chair Audrey Zibelman said in a statement. "Today, each household and place of business may use several phone numbers, in addition to the numbers assigned to their landlines and cell service. Given the reality of the way we communicate today, a new area code is needed to expand the numbers that are available."
At the root of it, 631 "is running out of assignable telephone numbers, and implementation of a new area code is necessary," said a June 16 report from the state Department of Public Service, which suggested two options for discussion.
The "overlay" approach, which was approved Thursday, will have current Suffolk County customers, wireless included, keeping their 631 numbers, with new customers in the county being assigned the new code "as needed." That also would require dialing 10 digits, instead of the current seven, for intra-county calls.
The other option envisioned a "geographic split," with Suffolk County residents on one side of a line keeping 631 and those on the other side making the switch.The commission determined the overlay is "easier to implement from a technical standpoint and less expensive from a customer standpoint, especially for business customers," officials said in the news release.
The new number is to be assigned "at a later date" by the North American Numbering Plan Administration, which oversees basic phone network numbering in the United States, Canada and parts of the Caribbean, the release said.
Suffolk's new code will bring to 16 the number of area codes in the state, up from the original five.