UNDATED -- Green Country residents can practice using the 10-digit calling system starting Saturday. The practice period will last until March 5, 2011, when customers must include the area code on local calls.
Though local calls will require the area code beginning in March, there are no long distance charges, and you don't have to dial a "1" before the area code.
There will be no change in calling 911, 411 or 211 services. Those calls can be made in exactly the same way they are made today.
During the "permissive" calling period, which begins August 7, you can use either 7 or 10 digits for local calls. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission recommends customers start using the 10-digit dialing system to get used to the change.
The changeover is part of the move to add another area code – called an overlay - in what has been the 918 calling district. Beginning April 1, new phone service customers will be assigned the 539 area code.
Customers can still request a 918 number, but may or may not get their wishes, depending upon 918 number availability. The OCC predicts that 918 numbers will be exhausted by the end of 2012.
The 10-digit dialing is required by the Federal Communications Commission during an overlay.
12/30/2009 Related Story: 918 Area Code To Get Overlay Area Code 539 In 2011
"This dialing requirement results from a concern that customers in the original area code and customers with the overlay area code would have different dialing arrangements for the same geographic area," according to a news release from the OCC.
"Those in the original area code could reach a party in their same geographic area with a 7-digit call, while those in the overlay area code would have to dial 10 digits to reach the same party."
A new area code is needed due to the increased demand for telephone lines in homes and offices for fax machines, modems, burglar alarms, ATM machines and Internet access. Also, cellular phones and pages have added to the shortages of "prefix" numbers – the three-digit number between the area code and the four-digit number.