To the list of dwindling resources in our little corner of paradise — grass at Auditorium Shores, downtown parking, affordable housing around Rainey Street, legislators disinclined to grandstanding — we may now add another: numbers.
As in telephone numbers.
Beginning June 1, calling anyone in the 512 area code even within same will require pressing buttons 10 times instead of seven — 11 times if it’s long distance. That affects residents in 19 Central Texas counties where a new area code, 737, is coming.
The change will “ensure a continuing supply of telephone numbers,” according to the state’s Public Utility Commission, whose job it is to keep an eye on these things. Turns out those 512 numbers are like helium: in dwindling supply. To put it another way, we’ve reached peak 512.
“The forecast is done by this group, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, and their latest projection was that the 512 numbers would exhaust by the end of this year,” said PUC spokesman Terry Hadley.
So we need to throw a party for the last person or business to get a 512 number, right? Not really, says Hadley. As people cancel service with 512 numbers, some of those could become available. Customers also can ask their providers, once simply called “the phone company,” if there are any coveted 512 numbers out there in the weeds.
The fun and games start June 1, meaning you’re going to have to update your mobile phone contact information, security systems and, if anybody in our area still has them, fax machines and dial-up Internet.
The PUC also advises you to update your website info, business cards and stationery, and the contact number on Fluffy the rat terrier’s tag if she gets out again. And if you still write checks, those too.
The 737s will begin to be issued starting July 1, and that’s when there’s more fun to be had. Say you come across a person or business with a 737. You get to say, “Oh, you’re a 737. That’s great. Yeah, this place really used to be something back when it was just 512.”