What are Area Code Overlays?

Area code overlays are a telecommunications strategy employed to manage phone number exhaustion in a specific geographic region without requiring existing users to change their phone numbers. When an area code overlay is implemented, a new area code is introduced to the same geographical area already served by an existing area code. Instead of dividing the region into two separate geographic areas with distinct codes, both area codes cover the same geographic boundaries.

The overlay approach allows for the introduction of new phone numbers with the new area code while allowing existing users to keep their current numbers. Callers within the region must dial the full ten-digit phone number, including the area code, even for local calls. The purpose of area code overlays is to efficiently allocate phone numbers, accommodate population growth, and avoid the inconvenience of widespread number changes. Overlays have become a common solution in regions experiencing high demand for phone numbers due to population growth or increased telecommunications usage.