A woman checks her phone in this 2016 file photo. Credit: Mickey Bedell / BDN

The life of Maine’s beloved 207 area code has been extended through the end of 2025 and relief planning efforts have been postponed, according to the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Previously, the 207-area code was expected to be exhausted in 2024, prompting a number of steps, including an investigation into Verizon’s forecasting process for numbering resources.

“Maine’s 207 area code was dwindling rapidly, but through the diligent efforts of Commission staff in the telecommunications division and others, we have significantly extended its life,” said Chair Philip L. Bartlett II. “This provides us with some breathing room, giving us an opportunity to extend this timeline even further through additional efforts. We will continue to do what we can to preserve Maine’s single area code for as long as possible.”

Those additional efforts include returning unused numbering blocks to the pool through an upcoming investigation, working collaboratively with Consolidated Communications to reduce the number of rate centers that are driving some of the area requests to allow other providers to utilize the numbering inventory and investigating the forecasting practices of companies in addition to Verizon that may have contributed to the earlier projected exhaust date.

In 2021, the Maine PUC petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to direct the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) to report on the technical, operational and cost requirements to implement number optimization measures in the 207-area code.

The FCC requested that an FCC working group on numbering report back by August 2022 regarding the feasibility of implementing new number conservation measures such as individual telephone numbering pooling proposed by Maine and other states. To date, PUC says its efforts have resulted in the return of more than 600,000 numbers to the numbering pool from unused or slightly used blocks.