Editorial: Best option for new area code is an overlay

The end of the 631 area code is approaching for some of us here in Suffolk County.

While the arguments surrounding the pros and cons of both possible solutions now being weighed by the North American Numbering Plan Administration may seem trivial, this is actually an important issue that can change how residents in the county are identified. 

An area code is something people associate themselves with. It can be seen as a sign of status — think 212 vs. 718 — and evoke a way of life.

A new area code will also begin a costly process for businesses and governments that are forced to replace signage, letterhead, business cards and other identifiers that include phone numbers. If NANPA decides to split Suffolk County geographically into two separate area codes, eastern Suffolk could be left to foot the bill alone less than two decades after all of Suffolk was switched from 516 to 631 in November 1999.

We hope the organization chooses a second “overlay” option, which would phase in a new area code as new numbers are assigned. While it may be inconvenient for you to have one area code while your next-door neighbor has another, it’s the lesser of two evils.

However, if NANPA does choose to divide the county geographically, the new area code should be assigned to western Suffolk. The East End has worked hard to fight off overdevelopment. Why should it pay the price for western Suffolk’s aggressive build-out?

As for what the new area code should be, we suggest the available area code 683 — as in 1683, the year Suffolk County was founded.