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North Dakota officials are seeking permission from federal regulators to free up potentially millions of unused phone s and keep the state under one area code. The state is projected to run out of phone s under the area code in Many North Dakotans are accustomed to seven-digit dialing in which they omit the area code when calling locally, and state officials anticipate residents might find a switch to digit dialing with a second area code cumbersome.
Two other states, New Hampshire and Maine, have petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to allow them more leniency in asing phone s to service areas. North Dakota's Public Service Commission voted last week to them. When a phone company wants to expand to a new part of the state, it must request a block of s to serve that area. Each block must contain at least 1, phone s. Sometimes, the service area the block is ased to is a small town where just a few dozen or few hundred of those s are needed.
The remaining s within the block cannot be repurposed to another service area. Thus, they sit unused. Such a scenario exists in many parts of North Dakota. All are rural states with just one area code. They want the federal government to lift the 1, minimum in each block so that fewer s could be ased to a service area.
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Some phone companies have indicated a willingness to turn back unused phone s, and millions of s are tied up under existing rules, Christmann said. If the FCC is amenable to the idea and the process works smoothly in the states that petitioned for the change, the federal government could potentially lift the limit for all states, he said. That might allow the rest of the United States to preserve digit dialing well into the future, according to Christmann.
The nation as a whole could run out of digit phone s within the next couple of decades, he said. This is the second time in recent years the PSC has taken action to preserve seven-digit dialing.
The commission has worked with several phone companies to change about 30 s that began with the digits after the area code. The state pushed for companies to free up those digits because of a change to the national suicide hotline. ly, a person seeking to call for help had to dial a digitbut by next summer they will simply need to dial The PSC managed to free up all s in the state. The alternative was requiring everyone in North Dakota to dial the area code any time they sought to make an in-state call.
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Reach Amy R. Sisk at or amy. K-9 Lee is an accelerant-detecting dog for use in investigating suspected arson or suspicious fires. The operator of a pipeline slated to transport carbon dioxide into North Dakota for disposal intends to pick up emissions captured from an ammonia plant planned for Grand Forks. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says a police investigator violated state law by confiscating a radio journalist's cellphone without a valid warrant and has been forced to return the device.
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