Ready to start dialing 10 digits?
By Andres Navarro
December 22. 2009
What you need to know
Things that will change as of Jan. 10
Callers must begin dialing a three-digit area code for local calls. (Phone companies will begin assigning numbers to the new 458 area code after Feb. 10.)
Things that will not change
• Existing 541 area code telephone numbers
will stay the same.
Things to check for personal telephones
• Check whether automatic-dialers, fax
machines and computer modems need to be reprogrammed before Jan.
What should businesses do?
All businesses in
Oregonians living in the 541 area code will soon have to start dialing 10 digits in order to make local calls when seven-digit dialing will no longer work after Jan. 10.
Last year, the Oregon Public Utilities Commission approved the additional 458 area code after a study projected that the 541 area code will run out of available phone numbers by early 2010, said Bob Valdez, PUC public affairs specialist. The new area code should provide enough phone numbers to address the growing need in the coming years.
“The demand has been up for several reasons,” he said. “Some of the reasons are increased cell phone usage and people have one or two phone lines.”
To make sure people living in the 541 area code region know about the coming change, the PUC has been working together with local phone companies to conduct outreach to all customers in the area. Information regarding the new dialing system has been sent out to customers inside their monthly billing statements, and companies have been advising people of the change through customer service lines.
Qwest spokesman Bob Gravely said the change
should not be a problem because the company already experienced
an area code change in the
“When we have a project like this, we have a team together that makes sure everything gets taken care of,” he said. “We make sure our customers have the necessary information to adjust to the change.”
So far, Qwest customers have received two direct notifications in the mail regarding the change, Gravely said. Customers also are being informed of the upcoming change through local technical support staff.
Cell phone provider U.S. Cellular is taking steps to ensure people know about the dialing change, said Brian Ayers, a U.S. Cellular spokesman. The company is sending out information about the area code change inside customers’ billing statements, and on Jan. 6, 7 and 8, U.S. Cellular customers will receive a mass text message advising them of the change.
“The people most affected by this will be those who are used to dialing seven digits,” he said. “But people won’t start embracing the change until it actually happens.”
PUC has suggested to use 10-digit dialing
since July 12 to help people through the mandatory change in
Businesses in Oregon that utilize
specialized communications equipment such as PBX, electronic
telephone sets, auto-dial systems or multi-dial key systems
should also verify whether their telephone equipment is capable
of completing calls to the new area code. To do this, PUC
provided test numbers to call, which should confirm if the
equipment needs to be reprogrammed or upgraded,
No additional changes come with the 10-digit dialing. Customers with existing 541 phone numbers will not have to change their numbers, the coverage area will remain the same, keeping locals calls the same, and no calling rates will change.
The 541 area code covers all of
“This provides the longest solution going into the future,” he said. “We think it’s the least confusing for folks here but it also addresses the need for more phone numbers in the future.”
Andres Navarro can be reached at 541-617-7818 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.