The 406 prefix is a Montana icon, now emblazoned on everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs, but according to Montana PSC chairman Brad Johnson, the statewide area code was at risk of being changed by the FCC right up until this month.

"We are pretty much guaranteed being able to keep the exclusive 406 area code for the entire state right up through 2031, which is great news, you know, that 406 area code is a big part of our identity, almost as big as 'Big Sky Country is," Johnson said. "It was originally going to be gone as early as 2019!"

Johnson says the PSC has been working since 2013 to try to preserve the 406 area code and explains what they convinced the FCC to do.

"Traditionally, there was a practice of setting aside large blocks of numbers, thousands at a time for different potential users, and what the commission was able to do, was to be a partner in getting that policy changed, so that there is now what we call a pooling of numbers, so that those numbers aren't set aside for exclusive potential use in the future, but rather available now, so it extended the life of that area code dramatically."

Like Idaho and North Dakota, Montana is one of about a dozen states with a single area code, by contrast, California has 28.

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