This story originally appeared on Texas Public Radio.
San Antonio is about to join the leagues of most other large cities in the country- it’s about to get a new area code and 10-digit dialing. As part of our on-going Growing Pains project, we take a look at what it will mean when the long familiar 210 area code isn’t the only one assigned to San Antonio. It may be a little like an episode of The Simpsons.
On The Simpsons, Homer has a tough time adjusting when his town of Springfield gets an additional area code.
“Your call cannot be completed as dialed,” a recorded message says. “Please check the number and make sure you have the correct area code.” This shocks Homer. “Area code?! But it’s a local call,” he responds. Marge then tells him the Springfield phone company ran out of numbers and is issuing a second one.
Terry Hadley, with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, says that’s exactly what’s happening in San Antonio.
“With continued growth in homes, businesses and the explosion of mobile phones eventually new area codes are needed and it’s getting time for one in San Antonio,” Hadley said.
The Alamo City is expected to grow by another one million residents by 2050 and San Antonio will exhaust the 210 area code in 2018. That doesn’t mean we’ll lose the 210, just add an additional area code for new phones.
Hadley says what won’t happen is what’s known as a geographic split.
“Which in essence would be dividing Bexar County into two separate area codes,” he added. “That has proven to be more cumbersome.”
Homer Simpson knows what that’s all about. When part of Springfield got a new area code it decided to become an entirely separate city.
“There! We’re officially a city. Now we just sit back and wait for an NFL franchise!”
We may not get a football team out of it either, but what San Antonio will get is an overlay, a second area code for the same area. It’s the same system Dallas, Austin, Houston and many other major cities use. It’s a
change that’s welcomed by Chamber of Commerce President Richard Perez.
“We’re the last major city in Texas that does not have two area codes and so I think it’s a sign of the times in our growth and opportunity to continue to grow,” Perez says.
New homes, cell phones, or business numbers would be assigned the new three digit area code. The numbers haven’t been assigned yet.