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916 area code running out of prefixes; changes coming

New area code overlay slated for summer 2018
By: Matt Kramer, Staff Writer
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916 AREA CODE MEETINGS

Aug. 15 – 1 p.m. in the Sacramento Historic City Hall, second floor Hearing Room, 915 I Street, Sacramento

Aug. 15 – 6 p.m. at the Folsom Community Center, Activity Room, 52 Natoma Street, Folsom

Aug. 16 – 1 p.m. at the Roseville Civic Center, meeting rooms 1 and 2, 311 Vernon Street, Roseville

For more information: www.cpuc.ca.gov/916areacode

Long used to identify Sacramento and the surrounding areas, the 916 area code servicing parts of Placer, Sacramento, El Dorado, Solano, Sutter and Yolo counties is rapidly running out of available prefixes. It is expected that by December 2018, there will be none left. This soon-approaching deadline has prompted the Federal Communications Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission to institute an overlay, meaning that customers requesting new phone numbers in June 2018, six months before the final depletion of prefixes, may be given a new as-yet-undetermined area code.

 

CPUC spokeswoman Constance Gordon explained that the overlay process is common in large metropolitan regions, such as San Francisco and New York; the alternative option for such communities being a split, where current 916 prefix holders are encouraged or required to change over to a new area code. The overlay provides an easier way for callers to adapt to an expanding urban phone market.

 

“In other words, there are no more numbers available,” Gordon said. “(The overlay) adds a second area code, so two area codes will coexist within the same region. It’s a little bit inconvenient, but I think it’s better than the split.”

 

Gordon explained that the new area code prefix numbers would still function as local calls, likely adding no additional charges, though individual phone carrier policies may vary. When calling from 916 prefixed landlines, callers will have to dial a ‘1’ before connecting to the new area codes, even within the same block or the same house; cell phone users should be unaffected by this, according to Gordon.

 

Only new phone numbers, as of June 2018, will be directly affected by the area code overlay.

 

“Generally when this happens, everybody who now has a 916 number gets to keep it,” Gordon explained. “As people ask for new numbers or move into the area, they’ll be the ones who have to get the area code.”

 

The CPUC is hosting a series of public meetings throughout August for regions affected by the overlay, including one each in Roseville, Folsom and Sacramento.

 

More information, as well as contact information for those unable to attend the meetings, is available at www.cpuc.ca.gov/916areacode.