By Lily Firth
Area codes within a phone number create a sense of solidarity for people living in the same region. But on Sept. 17, new phone numbers in Southern and Central New Jersey will no longer contain the 609 area code –– they will now use the area code 640. But there is no need to worry — anyone with existing phone numbers, including the College, who uses area code 609 will still be able to keep their current numbers.
While this gives a chance for existing institutions and individuals living within the 609 area code’s boundaries to breathe a sigh of relief, the question still remains: why the need for a new area code?
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, which is in charge of New Jersey telecommunications, estimates that due to growing populations, available phone numbers with the 609 area code would soon run out. The two options the Board had to face was to either change the area code, or redraw the boundary lines of the area codes, according to NJ.com.
According to New Jersey Real Time News, many still say that changing the area code number will not affect their pride –– they still come originally from “609.”
The new area code brings slight changes telecommunications in Central and Southern New Jersey, including the Ewing area. As of Aug. 18, anyone with a 609 area code or the new 640 area code that wishes to call another 609 or 640 code has to dial the area code along with the seven-digit number to connected with the correct number.
If someone with an 856, 609 or 640 area code calls anyone with a different area code, they will need to dial 1 before the area code and the seven-digit number. Those in other area codes can continue using the same dialing methods, as there is no change for them. Anyone who does not dial 1 when necessary will get a recording instructing them to call again. The Board advises that this information should be changed in the contacts application on the phones of people living in affected area codes.
This change will also apply to other programmed equipment, like medical monitoring devices, fax machines, alarm security systems, voicemail services and even ankle monitors. This new dialing procedure will not affect dialing 911 for emergencies, according to the Board.
The Board did not specify if these changes will be for landline phones, cell phones or both, but they still advise anyone with a preprogrammed device to use the new dialing procedures. According to Ocean City Patch, the new area code will not affect pricing or rates of phones.
The new 640 area code will cover the same territory 609 currently does, which is central and southeastern parts of the state, from Cape May to Trenton. Sean Duffy, a psychology professor at Rutgers University-Camden, explained that there is a real sense of pride attached to area codes. There are shirts and other memorabilia sold that have area codes on them for specific regions, songs that mention area codes to show an attachment to one’s home, and even people getting tattoos of their area code.
When they were first implemented in 1947, all of New Jersey used the area code: 201. With the population of New Jersey ever expanding, the state had to introduce many more area codes over time. The area code 609 was predominant in Southern and Central New Jersey, whereas 201 remained common in Northern New Jersey.
With the new addition, there will be 10 area codes in New Jersey, including 862, 973, 201, 551, 908, 732, 848, 856, 609 now 640.