918 and 539 Area Code Overlay

Starting Saturday, March 5, the entire 918 area code geographic region will add another area code to the system – area code 539.  From that day forward, all calls made must include 10 digits (the area code and the seven digit number). 

After months of town hall meetings with the public, meetings with state and local officials, meetings with industry, media outreach and a consumer survey, on January 4, 2010 the Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved a plan to prevent so-called “number exhaust” in the region served by the 918 area code while at the same time allowing current residents, businesses, schools and local governments to keep their existing numbers.

The plan will add another area code (539) to the entire existing 918 area code geographic area.  There will be no change to existing numbers.  Eventually, all new numbers in the area will get the new 539 area code.  Under Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rules, overlays must include a requirement for 10-digit dialing for local calls.  After a lengthy transition phase which began August 2010, all local phone calls in the 918/539 area code will require 10 digits (the area code and the 7 digit number).  There will be no change in local call boundaries, or to such services as 9-1-1 or 2-1-1.

The change for an additional area code was necessary because of the increase demand of numbers in the 918 geographic area from regular telephones in homes and offices, cellular and PCS phones, pagers, lines used for fax machines, modems, burglar alarms, ATM machines, internet access, and other uses that strain existing telephone number resources.

With the code overlay, local 911 call takers have been educated to request the area code for numbers taken from citizens calling in to 911.  In addition, the 911 system has been internally configured to include the area code for transferred calls requiring the area code.  EMSA’s call-taking and dispatch system has already been using a 10-digit phone number system for nearly five years, so there will be no change internally for EMSA.

Kelli Bruer, Director of Communications, EMSA said, “In an emergency, citizens can call 911 as you normally would and EMSA will continue to be able to read your full phone number, and locate you using that number, should the call be disconnected for some reason. Nothing will change.”

There will be no increased cost in what is a local call, regardless of its area code.  The change in the area code does not change whether a call is local.  For example, if you have a 918 number and call a 539 number that’s located in an area that was part of the original local calling area, it will be still be a local call.  Please note that for all local calls, you will NOT need to dial a “1” before the area code, and any call improperly dialed with a “1” will automatically be blocked.

On March 5, 2011, calls made using only 7 digits will not be completed, and you will hear a recording instructing you to hang up and dial again using the proper area code.  Local telephone listing will include the area code.

In recent years, the vast majority of area code changes in the U.S. have employed an overlay with resulting 10-digit dialing.  It is expected that eventually all local calls in the U.S. will require 10-digit dialing for local calls.  Four states (Connecticut, Maryland, West Virginia and Oregon) are now entirely 10-digit for local calls.  For new service, customers may request a 918 number, but whether your request can be granted depends on whether there are 918 numbers available at the time of your request.