10-digit local dialing to debut in 918 area code
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Sunday, August 01, 2010
8/01/10 at 4:01 AM
If you live in northeastern Oklahoma, get ready to dial 10 digits for local telephone calls.
Residents of the 918 area code, which extends from Bartlesville in the north to Sallisaw in the south and from the Oklahoma-Arkansas border to Pawhuska, will be required on March 5, 2011, to dial the 918 area code plus the local number to complete calls in northeastern Oklahoma, federal and state officials say.
On Saturday, a "permissive" calling period begins in which local calls can be completed by dialing either seven or 10 digits. Permissive calling extends until mandatory 10-digit dialing begins in March.
On April 1, 2011, a new 539 area code will be available to new customers in the 918 area code in what is called an area code overlay.
Instead of dividing the 918 area into two geographic areas, each with its own area code, the overlay will superimpose the 539 area code for new customers over the 918 area. Customers may ask for and receive a 918 number if they are still available, state officials said.
Ten-digit dialing is necessary to distinguish between existing 918 customers and new 539 customers who could conceivably live in the same neighborhood, officials say.
"We encourage people to start using 10-digit dialing to get used to it and to test the system so everything works," said Matt Skinner, spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. "This is the time for school districts, businesses, municipal governments or any entity with a large database of phone numbers to make sure those phone numbers are programmed into their system with 10 digits."
Ten-digit dialing will not produce any changes in local calling boundaries. Local calls within the 918 area will still be local calls, and there will be no long-distance charges for calls made within the 918 area, officials said.
Also, there will be no changes to 9-1-1 emergency or 2-1-1 information services, officials said.
So why are these changes necessary?
Don't blame it on a government mandate or regulators or telecommunications providers — look in the mirror, industry officials say.
"We're simply running out of numbers in the 918 area," Skinner said.
A combination of new technologies and increased demand in homes and offices for landline phones, cellular and PCS phones, pagers, fax machines, modems, burglar alarms, ATMs and Internet access is straining existing telephone number resources, state and federal officials said.
The North American Numbering Plan Administration, which works with the Federal Communications Commission on the telephone numbering system, projects the 918 area code will run out of telephone numbers in the fourth quarter of 2012.
The remedies to the 918 area code "number exhaust" are an area code split or area code overlay.
The area code split would divide the 918 area code region into two parts, one of which would take a new area code. This would not change local calling boundaries. Seven-digit dialing would be used within each area code, but calls to the other area code would require 10-digit dialing.
The area code overlay assigns a new area code to new telephone or telecommunications customers or people who acquire new telecommunications services. Residents with existing telecommunications services keep their current 918 number. Although local calling boundaries remain the same in an overlay, 10-digit dialing is required for all local calls.
In 2009, facing the impending 918 area code number exhaust, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission began a series of hearings and town hall meetings around northeastern Oklahoma to gauge public sentiment on the area code split and overlay options. The commission also invited public comment on its website and by telephone.
Hundreds of members of the public, businesses, city and state officials responded. Opinions on the two plans were nearly equally divided, commission officials said.
In January, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission voted 2-to-1 in favor of an overlay. Commissioners Bob Anthony and Jeff Cloud voted for the overlay plan; Commissioner Dana Murphy opposed it.
Anthony said the overlay treats all existing 918 telecommunications customers equally.
"By doing this (overlay), we avoid the disruption and the cost of forcing large numbers of people to change their phone number," Anthony said. "Though they will all be disadvantaged equally, since they have to go to 10-digit dialing."
Joe Cocke, senior area code relief planner for the North American Numbering Plan Administration, said area number exhausts occur when there are a large number of telecommunications providers combined with many rate centers or telephone exchanges.
"If you have a high number of service providers, you will go through the numbers faster," Cocke said. "In the 918 area, there are 66 different service providers and 182 rate centers."
Four U.S. states — Connecticut, Maryland, West Virginia and Oregon — have statewide 10-digit dialing to remedy area number exhaust, Cocke said.
NANPA projects the United States will experience number exhaust in every area code and go to nationwide 10-digit dialing sometime after 2040.
"There are some European and Asian countries that have 14- or 16-digit (telephone) numbers," Cocke said. "We can count our blessings."
There were 673 million
reported assigned telephone
numbers in the United States
as of the second quarter of
The five states with the
highest quantity of telephone
numbers assigned to customers
California: 82.7 million.
Texas: 50.8 million.
New York: 46 million.
Florida: 39.7 million.
Illinois: 29.4 million.
AT&T developed the North
American Numbering Plan in
1947 to simplify and promote
direct dialing of long-distance
calls. The plan was implemented
The North American Numbering
Plan is an integrated telephone
numbering plan serving
19 North American countries
that share its resources.
The NANP countries are the
United States and its territories,
Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda,
the Bahamas, Barbados, the
British Virgin Islands, the Cayman
Islands, Dominica, the
Dominican Republic, Grenada,
Jamaica, Montserrat, St.
Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St.
Vincent and the Grenadines,
Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks
NANP numbers are 10-digit
numbers consisting of a threedigit
Numbering Plan Area
code, commonly called an area
code, followed by a seven-digit
The International Telecommunications
country code “1” to the NANP
Source: The North American
Numbering Plan Administration
Oklahoma telephone timeline
1947 — 405 area code assigned
to state of Oklahoma.
1953 — 918 area code assigned
to eastern Oklahoma,
1962 — Telephone customers
begin dialing their own
1997 — Part of the 405 region
assigned to 580 area code.
2009 — Plans announced
for a 539 area code, the fourth
Oklahoma area code.
Aug. 7, 2010 — “Permissive”
calling begins in the 918
area code. Local calls can be
made using seven- or 10-digit
March 5, 2011 — Mandatory
10-digit dialing begins in 918
April 1, 2011 — New 539
area code numbers become
Fourth quarter 2012 —
Predicted “exhaust” of 918
Source: Oklahoma Corporation
What to check
Devices and organizations
that may require reprogramming
for 10-digit dialing.
Computers with modem
connections to the Internet.
Private Branch Exchanges
Telephone databases of
school districts; civic and
Source: Oklahoma Corporation
Original Print Headline: 10-digit local dialing to debut
D.R. Stewart 581-8451
Get ready to dial 918 when making a local call. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World