Skip to comments.Some Californians set to begin 11-digit dialing
Posted on 07/23/2006 4:15:21 PM PDT by South40
LOS ANGELES Starting Wednesday, seven-digit dialing will be a thing of the past for a broad swath of coastal Los Angeles County.
Residents of such posh enclaves as Santa Monica, Malibu and Brentwood will be among the first Californians to be required to dial 11 digits each time they pick up the phone, even if they are calling a next-door neighbor.
The change comes as part of the state's first-ever area code overlay, in which future phone numbers within a region receive a new area code while existing numbers keep the old one. It contrasts with the more common area code split, in which a region is divided and each new geographic area gets its own area code. The overlay of 424 on the 310 area code is taking effect after a lengthy fight, and many of those who resisted it have a message for consumers and business owners in other parts of California.
I would imagine that, especially in heavily populated areas like L.A. and San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area, that this is going to happen more and more, said Kathryn Dodson, president of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. So our annoyance is going to eventually become everyone's annoyance.
Critics of the overlay cite the hassle of mandatory 11-digit dialing which the Federal Communications Commission requires with overlays in order to preserve competition among phone companies as well as the time and energy residents must expend updating speed-dial and cellular directories.
Phone companies counter that overlays are more convenient than splits because businesses can keep their existing numbers and therefore do not have to update stationery and notify clients.
Still, critics also say the overlay could be dangerous because some security systems rely on phone lines that dial automatically, and because some elderly or disabled people may adjust poorly to the change.
Then there's the prestige factor.
People are very aware of the 310 area code, said Darren Lewis, a manager in the music industry who works in Santa Monica. It has a cachet.
Now, if Lewis adds another phone line to his office, it will start with 424, which he expects will confuse the many people he deals with on the East Coast.
People are going to wonder where you are, he said.
Every area code in the United States has just under 8 million usable numbers, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Overlay critics acknowledge that population growth and the spread of new technology have the potential to tap out the supply in bustling regions, but they have suggested that phone companies still have many unused numbers.
Industry officials deny they are hoarding phone numbers and cast the overlay as the least onerous solution to a very real problem.
Absolutely we are reaching capacity in this area code, said Verizon spokesman Jon Davies. We were reaching capacity about six years ago.
Much of Los Angeles was covered by the 213 area code until the 310 was created for the city's west side in 1991. The 310 area code was split in 1997, when the 562 code was added.
Soon after that, the telecommunications industry began pushing state regulators for an overlay in the rapidly growing region, which stretches from Los Angeles' wealthy coastal communities to Compton and south Los Angeles.
Consumer activists and politicians mobilized against the plan, however, and in 1999 the California Public Utilities Commission voted 3-2 to halt it. At the state's behest, phone companies found other ways to conserve numbers.
Such efforts helped California continue to stave off overlays even as they spread to other states, including New York, Ohio, Maryland, Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
However, geographic splits continued throughout California, creating smaller and smaller area code boundaries. Meanwhile, the phone companies continued to complain of shrinking rosters of available numbers, and last year the CPUC took up another 310 overlay request.
We've extended the life of the area code for those six years, but now, once again, demand for cell phones and pagers and fax machines and all the new technology that's coming down the line has really taken over the availability of numbers, said Verizon spokesman Davies.
State Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Redondo Beach, sees it differently.
Some of this is the old boy crying wolf problem, she said. Some of the carriers were screaming they didn't have numbers, and here it's been seven years and nobody's been denied a telephone number in the 310 area code.
Despite the renewed objections of Bowen and other politicians and chambers of commerce, the CPUC voted unanimously to approve the plan last August.
Analysts see a number of reasons why the overlay passed this time, from the new political makeup of the CPUC and divisions among critics to the ever-increasing pressures of population and technology.
It all started with the damn ZIP Codes. Now the end is near!!
We still have speed-dialing/auto-dial.
We've been doing that in Houston for quite some time. Looks like California is behind the times. :-P
(Go Israel, Go! Slap 'Em, Down Hezbullies.)
There's a reason for that. The dramatic growth in computer-based communication in the last 10 years (e-mail, instant messaging, teleconferencing, etc.) has rendered the fax machine nearly obsolete. This has slowed down the growth in demand for new phone numbers in most metropolitan areas.
I'm not even sure why it's such a big deal for people who don't like this 11-digit dialing anyway. So many people place phone calls these days using pre-set/memory dialing that pressing each individual digit is becoming a thing of the past, too.
I think we started doing this in Dallas back in about '98 or '99.
Wonder why they have to dial 11 digits. Here in Houston, with three area codes (713, 281, and 832), we still only have to dial 10.
I live just 22 miles from the center of Houston and all calls to Houston are long distance. Even the next town, only 5 miles away is long distance.
We've had 10-digit dialing in Orlando since 1999, when we got our second area code (321) to join the previously existing 407. I thought California was supposed to be ahead of the rest of the country in everything.
You might have three area codes, but if you don't need to dial 11 digits all the time this means that these area codes still have some kind of geographic basis. In places where area codes are "overlayed," a new area code is introduced that includes places that already have their own area code -- and the new area code is used for all new phones from that point on. So a home with two different phone numbers could theoretically have two different area codes for its phones.
I have to dial the 1 first from landlines but can do straight 10-digit dialing from a cell phone.
The opposite is also true. There are some rural parts of the country where an area code covers an enormous region, and many calls within that area code can be "long distance" if they are made to points that are far away.
Growing up in Colorado in the 70s, we only dialed 4 numbers. Many folks still had party lines.
Brrrring... "Hello? Hold on, I have to dial eleven digits."
Communication skills today are atrocious.