WISCREPORT.COM - Eight Wisconsin lawmakers have written the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) urging them to adopt a geographical split of the 715 area code to maintain the 715 prefix in northwest Wisconsin. The rapid expansion of new phone lines in the 715 area code is expected to exhaust available phone numbers by late 2009.
The eight lawmakers include: State Senators Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) and Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls), and State Representatives Barbara Gronemus (D-Whitehall), Mary Hubler (D-Rice Lake), Ann Hraychuck (D-Balsam Lake), Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls), John Murtha (R-Baldwin), and Kitty Rhoades (R-Hudson). In the letter, the lawmakers make two unique and compelling reasons for why a geographical split that keeps 715 for northwest Wisconsin is the best decision:
1. The western side of the 715 area code is growing faster than the eastern side. The comparative growth in the western region would likely lead to another split in 19 years, as opposed to 24 years in the eastern part. Therefore, there would be a greater negative impact on northwest Wisconsin if forced to adopt a new area code.
2. Western Wisconsin’s proximity to the Twin Cities and Duluth creates a substantial economic link in the region. A change in the area code for western Wisconsin would greatly impact Wisconsin businesses as well as millions of individuals and businesses in Minnesota doing business with Wisconsin residents.
“While this may seem like a trivial issue to some, the fact remains that the PSC must make a decision on the matter, and this is the most sensible solution to the problem,” said Senator Jauch.
“The economic connection between Northwest Wisconsin and Minnesota is important and unique,” said Senator Harsdorf. “Worse yet, a decision by PSC would provide little notice to Minnesota that their business partners in Wisconsin would be subject to such a change.”
“Unfortunately, change is inevitable. So we should make a change that is pragmatic and minimizes unnecessary hassle for businesses,” said Representative Hraychuck.
“An overlay is not practical for any side. It would inconvenience and be confusing to everyone,” said Representative Moulton. “It only makes sense that western Wisconsin side should keep the 715 area code.”
“Western Wisconsin companies and individuals that do business in the Twin Cities could be significantly impacted,” said Representative Rhoades. “Now is the time to speak up.”
PSC public hearings for the 715 area code change are scheduled for the week of September 17, 2007.