Starting Saturday, people in the 918 area code must dial or press three extra digits — even when ordering a pizza, calling their kid’s school or gossiping with a neighbor.
That’s when all local calls must include the three-digit area code as well as the regular phone number.
The 10-digit calling is part of an “overlay” program in which a new area code, 539, will be made available to customers in April, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission said.
“No one’s existing telephone number will change — period,” said Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner. “The big change is the three extra digits with local numbers.”
The new 539 area code numbers will be available to new customers on April 1, but customers can ask for a 918 number if it is available, said a Corporation Commission information sheet.
Roger Carter, manager of the AT&T Access Wireless store at 1620 W. Shawnee Bypass, said he already encourages his customers to add the 918 area code when they list their local calls.
“When I first heard about it, I started telling customers about it,” Carter said. “Every customer who comes through the doors, we made them aware of it. Some are aware of it already. Some are worried about it.”
Skinner said people should add the area code to the local numbers on their automatic call lists.
Businesses, churches or government entities with multiple phone lines should make sure their systems are ready for the 10-digit dialing, he said.
“If you have a problem with your PBX system, you will need to check with your provider,” Skinner said.
Representatives with AT&T were on the Bacone College campus this week preparing phones for the 10-digit dialing, said Eugene Blankenship, Bacone’s assistant vice president for institutional advancement.
Blankenship said the college has “well over 500 different lines” for students, fax machines, staff members and other outlets.
Bacone President Dr. Robert Duncan has held meetings to tell students about the new dialing, Blankenship said.
The phone system at Muskogee’s Municipal Building already accommodates the local 10-digit dialing, City Manager Greg Buckley said. He already has dialed 10 digits for local calls from his office.
People with land line telephones will not have to dial 1 or 0 before the area code to make local calls, but will need to dial 1 or 0 for long distance calls, Skinner said.
The 918 area code, which covers northeast Oklahoma, needs the new area code overlay to accommodate the devices and machines that use telephone numbers, Skinner said.
“It’s not so much a people issue, it’s an equipment issue,” he said. “ATM machines, burglar alarms, centers that are Internet hubs, that’s what needs the phone numbers. The amount of phone numbers needed in the digital age is huge.”
Skinner said the 10-digit dialing will not affect emergency 911 calls, 411 directory assistance, the 211 help line or similar three-digit programs.
For detailed information on the move to 10-digit dialing, go to www.occ.state.ok.us
Reach Cathy Spaulding at 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.