New Oklahoma area code will be 539
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Monday, January 04, 2010
1/04/10 at 5:22 PM
It’s official — Tulsa residents will get to keep the 918 area code for existing phone numbers.
But soon, most new numbers in eastern Oklahoma will be assigned to a new area code, and residents eventually will have to dial 10 digits to make calls.
That will be the result of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s 2-1 vote in favor of an “overlay” plan for the new area code. In this plan, both codes will cover the same geographical area, with new customers and phone lines assigned the new area code.
Current customers won’t have to change their numbers.
Commissioners Bob Anthony and Jeff Cloud voted for the plan while Dana Murphy opposed it.
The new code will be rolled out April 1, 2011 and the North American Numbering Plan Administration, which works with the Federal Communications Commission, announced that the new area code will be 539. The organization had estimated the 918 area would run out of telephone numbers sometime in the second quarter of 2012.
The area code overlay was recommended by the commission staff and an administrative law judge earlier this year. Although local calling boundaries will remain intact, an area code overlay requires 10-digit dialing for all local calls.
Matt Skinner, public information officer for the Corporation Commission, said the new code will be adopted gradually. On Aug. 7, a “permissive calling” period will begin and allow local calls to be completed with or without dialing the area code.
By March 5, 2011, all callers will need to dial the area code in order to make local calls.
Though the new area code will be assigned to new lines by default, customers could still ask for and be assigned a 918 number if they are still available, Skinner said.
The other area code option considered by the commission was an area code split. That option would have divided the 918 area code into a 918 section and another section with a new area code. This was the option taken in 1997 when part of the 405 area code covering western Oklahoma was converted to 580.
The commission was forced to tackle the issue due to the proliferation of telecommunications devices. The growth of cellular and PCS phones, pagers, modems, faxes, Internet-linked computers, alarm systems, private branch exchanges and automated teller machines — in addition to traditional landline phones — is rapidly using up available numbers, federal and state officials say.