Don't mutilate the 918

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918, the area code for Tulsa and most of Oklahoma's Green Country, will run out of phone numbers by the end of 2011, and Oklahoma will need a fourth area code. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates telephone utilities in the state, has information and a survey on the two alternatives for handling "number exhaust" in the 918.

The choices are to split the area code geographically into two regions, with one region keeping 918 and the other being assigned a new area code, or to overlay a new area code for the same area. In an overlay, all existing 918 numbers would keep the same area code, but newly assigned numbers would receive the new area code.

In a split, each area code would continue to have seven-digit local dialing. In an overlay, all calls would require dialing ten digits.

The typical pattern in a split is for the urban area to keep the old area code and the outlying rural areas to get the new code. One of the questions in the OCC survey is whether, in a split, metro Tulsa would get 918 or the new area code. The "inner circle" covers nearly all of Tulsa, Wagoner, Rogers, Okmulgee, and Creek Counties, the southeastern half of Osage County, the eastern half of Pawnee County, and Washington County south of, but not including, Bartlesville. It corresponds to the toll free dialing area around Tulsa. The proposed split leaves an awkward shape for the outer area -- not a tidy, contiguous outer ring.

To my mind, an overlay makes sense in a metro area like DFW or New York where people are already using ten digits for many of their local phone calls -- calling from Dallas to Arlington or Brooklyn to Manhattan -- or where the area code that needs splitting is already a small area and there are no clean breaks between exchanges. Those conditions don't obtain here in Oklahoma. It makes sense to do to the 918 what was done many years ago to 405 -- keep the existing code for the urbanized area and assign a new code to the outer area.

The Corporation Commission wants your opinion on 918 number exhaust. Read all the facts and make your voice heard.

UPDATE: Charles G. Hill has a lead on the likely candidates for Oklahoma's new area code.

According to the NANPA 2008 annual report (59-page PDF), 580 and 405 are forecast to hit "number exhaust" by the end of 2013 and 2015 respectively.

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9 Comments

Tyson Wynn Author Profile Page said:

Gotta disagree with you on this one. People who have had the same numbers for years shouldn't have to shift to a new area code. I prefer the overlay plan. We're moving to the age of number portability anyway, and area codes won't long mean too much (especially as portable VOIP grows in popularity). I have been 100% Vonage for some time now. Those three extra digits don't add much inconvenience to one's life.

But I don't want to get a new area code! :-D

Personally, I think they should not do an overlay. Perhaps a split at I-40 would be best - those north would keep 918, and those south would get a new area code.

However, the OCC needs to publicize their town halls a little better, as well as plan them on different days. They held one here in Muskogee last Wednesday evening (bad time choice), and only three people, besides the OCC folks and the newspaper, came.

K. Latham Author Profile Page said:

I feel your pain. It was a royal pain when we switched from 405 to 580 here in the west OK.

David V Author Profile Page said:

Having had experiences with both solutions, I also prefer the geographic split, rather than the overlay.

This way, Tahlequah and other outlying cities have a one-time annoyance and therafter a seamless conformity within their community.

I do acknowledge the hardship this puts upon businesses who just bought professional stationary and signage. But the cost and clutter of perpetually using 4 extra characters in media is an even bigger burden.

Radio advertising would hate the overlay option.

Training young children to learn important phone numbers is only made more difficult by the overlay option. This can be a very serious matter.

Since almost everyone makes the majority of their calls to someone less than 30 miles away, everyone will benefit equally from the geographic solution. This way 7-digit calling is preserved for almost all calls made.

Central Minnesota (where I grew up) made this split with the Twin Cities back in the 80's. Oh, we all grumbled and complained about the Minneapolis area getting to keep the existing area code(612) while everyone else was forced into the new (320) code.


But since several agencies which serve the entire state where based out of the Mpls-St Paul region, even St. Cloud people benefitted from the decision. For instance, if my dad needed to call the Mpls. V.A. hospital because of a reaction to the meds he takes, he needed to KNOW the number NOW.

While in L.A. during and after the 84 Olympics, the biggest concern when making a local call was always, " Is that a long distance number?", since it was to a different area code. This is more confusing than you may know. The mindset is deeply seated. Especially with older citizens.

For about 6 months during the Central Minn. geographic change of area code, calls were completed to 320-code customers even when they were called using the old 612-code. I hope this accommodation is implemented.

So if the decision is made this June, the new code should be activated this fall even though the old code is still actively sevicing the entire area.

Either option will result in a huge spike in "wrong number" calls dring and immediately after the switch.

The simplist solution is an outlying area with a reassigned code.

Thanks for alerting us. This issue needs to be resolved and publicized soon. 18 months is a very short time for this type of notification of change. Business needs time to adjust and plan their expences.

CGHill Author Profile Page said:

Originally, it was all 405: the 918 split was introduced in late 1953, and finalized six months later.

David V Author Profile Page said:

It seems that Tulsa is getting the "short end of the stick"
The OCC didn't even provide a town hall meeting for Tulsa, but they sure did reach out to other cities in the 918. Here's the meeting schedule they posted:

Muskogee
NEW MEETING DATE
Wednesday April 15th, 6:00 p.m.
Muskogee Civic center, Rooms A and B
425 Boston Ave.

Claremore
Thursday, April 9th, 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Claremore city council chambers
104 S. Muskogee Ave.

Vinita
Thursday, April 9th, 5:30 p.m.
Vinita city council chambers.
101 E. Illinois

Stroud
Tuesday, April 7, 6:00 p.m.
Stroud city hall, main courtroom
220 W. 2nd Street,

I wrote to the commission in the commet box:

"Why didn't you accommodate a town hall meeting in Tulsa? That, along with assigning Tulsa as "Area "B", leads a citizen to greatly suspect that a preference is given to the citizens outside of the Tulsa metropolitan area.
Please address this oversight so that your leadership is kept above criticism."

As things stand right now, I'd predict Tulsa will have to chane area codes and the outer ring will be spared any inconvenience.

Tyson Wynn Author Profile Page said:

Wow, I'm not usually in the minority on batesline.

I'm still not persuaded to change my opinion from overlay.

Splits can keep happening, and I still see no reason for people who have long had a 918 to have to switch to a new area code when the overlay accomplishes the goal (more numbers) without a disruption to many of the rural folks. Three more digits is not that big a deal. I've been doing it for at last three years with my Vonage and I always program all digits into my cell. And area codes are growing more and more meaningless as "area" codes.

Let's ask it this way: What if they decided for the split, but gave the 918 to the outlying areas and assigned the new area code to the metro? Does that change any of your opinions?

P-X Author Profile Page said:

I've worked in telecommunications for over 5 years and have seen more problems with geographic splits than overlays.The beat example is the Dallas-Ft Worth area.When you have portability issues with landline and wireless it's easier to retain the grandfathered npa-nxx-xxxx.New customers get new numbers and the tandem switch can handle it with no problem.Welcome to the world of programming your speed dial to 10 digits.Local long distance numbers will still require adding a 1.

Jason Trainor said:

For David V. - There WAS a Tulsa Town Hall meeting on 918. I was one of the very few, along with the media, who attended. It was held March 24 or 25.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 20, 2009 9:49 PM.

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