Q: Will I have to change my number?
A: No! If you already have a 916 number, you won’t have to change it.
Q: When did this take effect?
A: In September 2017, 279 numbers began to be assigned to new orders for phone service.
Q: Why do we need a new area code?
A: The new area code is necessary because the 916 area code has reached the limit on new combinations of numbers. As of August 2017, 916 - which serves communities in Sacramento, Yolo, Placer, Sutter, El Dorado and Solano counties - had only 53 usable prefixes. Thus, 916 was projected to run out of new numbers by early 2018.
Q: Why not just break the service area up into separate area codes?
A: The California Public Utilities Commission looked at different options, including splitting the region into two separate area codes, and doing an overlay. The option to split the region would have necessitated half of the people to change their area codes, and the CPUC considered this more disruptive and confusing than adding in a new area code to be assigned for new phone service, such as other large metropolitan areas have done when they began running out of numbers.
Q: So I’ll have to dial 1 when calling between area codes, right?
A: Yes! The change will necessitate dialing 1 plus the area code for every call. When 279 originally came online in September 2017, dialing the 10 digit number was be optional for calls between the same area code. However, as of February 2018, all calls will require dialing the full 10 digit telephone number.
Q: What will happen to the 916 numbers that are leftover, or become available upon customers’ cancellation of service?
A: The numbers will be available, but the basis of their distribution had not yet been determined, a CPUS spokesperson said.
Q: Who’s in charge of area codes?
A: The North American Number Plan Administrator is responsible for ensuring that “numbering resources” are available to the telecommunications industry. This agency filed an application to introduce a new area code in the region, and the CPUC evaluated the application, holding public meetings about the proposal in Sacramento, Folsom and Roseville.
Q: Is there anything else I need to know?
People and businesses should prepare for the overlay by making sure equipment like fax machines and alarm and security devices that use a phone line are programmed with the 1 + 10-digit numbers. Also, it is recommended that you update your contact lists for mobile devices, too.
Q: Wait, I’m still confused. Who can answer my questions?