Hey Billings, and Montana... lately I have noticed when people are asked for their area code... they are providing their zip code. It got me thinking since we are known as the "406"... are people born and raised in Montana simply not aware of what an Area Code is VS a Zip Code?

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Area VS Zip

You might laugh at this, but I genuinely think some are unaware that "406" is our Area Code. It's pretty easy to tell the difference between them, as an Area Code is a 3-digit number, and Zip Codes are 5-digit numbers.

For example, here in Montana we simply have one area code "406". However, in many states, there are multiple due to population. Why does Montana only have one?

We're Slowly Running Out Of Numbers

Last year, the Public Service Commission in Montana asked the FCC for options to extend their estimated deadline of 2027, when the FCC expects the 406 area code to run out of number options.

Numbers are assigned in blocks of 1000, however with much of Montana being rural, some areas do not qualify for a full block... instead having numbers assigned from blocks nearby.

KTVH in Helena has a great write-up in the spring of 2022 about this very issue, and I encourage you to read all about it via the button below.

Now, on the flip side of the coin, our Zip Code is a postal code, and an acronym for "Zone Improvement Plan"... designed to suggest to the people of the US that mail travels more efficiently and quickly when senders use the zip code in the postal address.

In the modern world, is the Zip Code really necessary? Not fully, but it makes looking up a city much easier.

So what?

Sure, I may sound like I am mocking people for not knowing the difference... but it genuinely worried me that someone could think a Zip Code is an Area Code. Two completely different things, and somehow they are getting mixed up.

What are your thoughts? Do you know someone who mixes these up? Let us know on App Chat or on Facebook.

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