More lines, more hassle

On Wednesday, the Minnesota Telephone Association and U S West announced the 612 area code would be divided again next year, this time into three separate area codes. If the state and regional telephone companies had more foresight, a more convenient solution could have been realized.
The increased popularity of cellular phones, fax machines, computers accessing the Internet and second lines has created a shortage of available telephone numbers. This past year, 612 was separated to accommodate this growth. Minneapolis and its suburbs retained 612 and St. Paul and its suburbs were assigned 651. The new plan, to be implemented in February, will further divide Minneapolis and its suburbs. Minneapolis, Richfield and St. Anthony will still retain 612; however, areas to the north and northwest will be assigned 763. Areas to the south and southwest will be assigned 952.
Within the same metropolitan area, many calls will now require 10 digits and knowledge of the correct area code. If the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission had merely added one prefix to current seven digit numbers, this could have been avoided. An eight-digit calling area would provide 99,999,999 possibilities — far more possibilities than the nearly five million Minnesotans would need. This lack of foresight will inconvenience Minnesotans for decades to come.