The 803 area code, that covers several counties, will have the 839 area code overlay added. 

Beginning in 2020, phone users in Aiken and several other counties in South Carolina will be required to use 10-digit dialing for local calls. 

The 803 area code, covering Aiken, Chester, Richland, Sumter and Allendale counties, will have the 839 area code overlay added, according to a news release by the Public Service Commission of South Carolina. 

This overlay, which will be added to the current 803 area code rather than replacing it, will require 10-digit dialing for local calls. 

Customers in the 803 area code may begin to dial all local calls with 10 digits beginning Oct. 26, according to the release. 

There will be a transition period before dialing the complete 10-digit phone number becomes mandatory on April 25, 2020.

What will remain the same

According to the release, current telephone numbers, including the current area code, will not change. A consumer that currently has an 803 area code will remain unchanged. 

The price of a call, coverage area or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay. 

Currently local calls will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed. 

Consumers will still dial three digits to reach 911, according to the release. If 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 or 811 are currently available in a consumer's community, they will still dial these codes with just three digits. 

What will change

In addition to changing dialing procedures, all services, automatic dialing equipment or other types of equipment that are currently programmed to dial a seven-digit number will need to be reprogrammed to match the new dialing procedures.

Some examples include life safety systems, stored telephone numbers in contact lists in phones, PBXs, fax machines, internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems or gates, speed dialers, call forwarding settings and voicemail services.

The Public Service Commission also encourages consumers to check personal or business stationery and advertising materials to be sure the accurate area code is represented.

Timeline of the overlay

  • Oct. 26: Consumers should begin using the new dialing procedures whenever they lace a call from the 803 area code. During this permissive period, seven digit calls will still be completed.
  • April 25, 2020: Consumers must use the new dialing procedures. On and after this date, if consumers do not use the new dialing procedures, calls will not be complete. A recorded message will instruct callers to hang up and dial again with the new area code. 
  • May 26, 2020: New telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers using the new 839 area code. 

Matthew Enfinger is a general assignment reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter: @matt_enfinger