Illinois

Illinois QC to get new area code: 861

The Illinois Quad Cities will get a new area code, 861, next month.

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To ensure a continued supply of new phone numbers, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has approved an area code overlay for the 309 area code region serving west-central Illinois, including East Moline, Moline and Rock Island.

The new 861 area code will serve the same geographic area currently served by the existing 309 area code, and people with 309 numbers will not have to change, according to an ICC release Wednesday.

The new 861 area code overlays the region’s 309 area code and does not replace current numbers (courtesy of MTCO Communications).

The new 861 area code overlays the region’s 309 area code and does not replace current numbers.

Adding a new 861 area code—effective February 24, 2023—does not require changing your existing area code or phone number. “You will continue to dial the area code and phone number for all local calls as you do today, within and between the 309 and 861 area codes,” the release said.

Beginning February 24, customers in the 309 area code overlay region can be assigned a number with the new 861 area code when requesting new service or an additional line. Customers receiving the 861 area code must dial the area code and phone number for all local calls, just as customers receiving phone numbers from the 309 area code do today, the ICC said.

What do you have to do?

Customers in the overlay region should:

  • Continue dialing 10 digits for all local calls, including calls within the same area code.
  • Keep identifying your phone number as a 10-digit number and include the area code when giving the number to friends, family, business associates, clients, etc.
  • Ensure that any service, autodialer or other type of device recognizes the new 861 area code as a valid area code and continues to store or program phone numbers as 10-digit numbers. Some examples include: stored phone numbers in contact lists on cordless phones, PBXs, fax machines, Internet access numbers, speed dials, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, medical alert devices, security alarm systems and gates, ankle bracelets, and/or other similar devices.
  • Check items such as your website, personal and business stationery and printed checks, promotional materials, contact information, and your personal or pet ID tags to ensure the area code is included.

what stays the same

  • Your phone number, including the current area code, will not change.
  • The price of a call, coverage area or other tariffs and services does not change because of the overlay.
  • What is now a local call remains a local call. You continue to dial 10 digits for local calls within and between the overlay area codes and 1+10 digits for long distance calls.
  • You can continue to dial just three digits to reach 911 and 988, as well as 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711, or 811 if they are currently available in your community.

309 since 1957

The new 861 area code has been in the works for some time, at least since 2021. The 309 area code was originally created in 1957 and serves large portions of northwest and north-central Illinois, including all or most of Peoria, McLean, Rock Island, Die Tazewell, Knox, Henry, Woodford, Fulton and McDonough counties.

The 861 code is only assigned to new customers who request local phone service, cellular and paging services, and alarms.

An overlay area code will not change existing numbers, according to an ICC press release in late 2021.

“However, because the new area code operates within the same boundaries as the existing area code, all calls must be completed by dialing the full 10-digit phone number (including the area code),” the ICC said.

Currently, subscribers can make local calls within the 309 area code by dialing just the 7-digit phone number. In July 2020, the Federal Communications Commission issued an executive order dubbed “988” as the new, three-digit, statewide suicide prevention hotline, effective 2022.

The new Suicide Prevention Lifeline 988 came into effect in September 2022.

For the 988 area code to work properly, any area code that already has “988” as a working prefix must be converted to 10-digit dialing. With this change, the 7-digit local dialing is discontinued and the advantage of a geographical breakdown compared to an overlay no longer applies.

Therefore, the only remaining way to provide new phone numbers to a region where exhaust emissions are expected is to assign a new overlay code, the ICC said.

The 861 area code is assigned to new customers requesting local phone service, cellular and paging service, and alarms. With the new 861 area code, current customers from the 309 area will keep their numbers.

The new area code will be introduced so that the number administrator has a continuous supply of prefixes and blocks to allocate to new and growing telecom service providers, the ICC said. Consumers seeking additional phone lines will, in many cases, still be able to receive 309 phone numbers even after the 861 area code goes into service.

For more information, visit the ICC Area Codes website HERE.

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