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Some Californians set to begin 11-digit dialing
The San Diego Union-Tribune ^ | July 23, 2006 | Dan Laidman

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.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: area; areacode; areacodes; circuit; codes; losangeles; phone; phonecircuit; phonesystem; telecom; telephone
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To: SaveTheChief

My relatives in the DC metro area have been doing that for a while, too. Forever between Maryland, DC, and Virginia, and for a couple years now to everyone else in the Virginia 'burbs.

Also, about ten years ago, there were several phone outages in Northern VA, where you could still call DC and MD, but not anyone else in Virginia. Then it was announced that local in-state calls would go through if one did use the area code.

Everywhere I have lived since then, anytime there are phone system problems, I try dialing the area code first with local numbers to see if I can find a circuit to get my call through thataway.


21 posted on 07/23/2006 4:51:47 PM PDT by JockoManning (
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To: South40

This happened around Chicago a while ago.

22 posted on 07/23/2006 4:53:27 PM PDT by BlessedBeGod (Benedict XVI = Terminator IV)
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To: South40

No one will notice. You only need update your phone directory once.

23 posted on 07/23/2006 5:15:13 PM PDT by TheDon (The Democratic Party is the party of TREASON!)
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To: Alberta's Child

713 and 281 are geographical - at least as regards landlines - but 832 is an overlay here.

24 posted on 07/23/2006 5:18:01 PM PDT by Xenalyte (Anything is possible when you don't understand how anything happens.)
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To: Berosus

We are still only dialing 7 locally here in STL..

25 posted on 07/23/2006 5:24:54 PM PDT by cardinal4 (America, despite the usual suspects, stands firmly with Israel..)
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To: dalereed
Well, I remember when our phone number in Downey, Calif. was Metcalf 555.
26 posted on 07/23/2006 5:27:43 PM PDT by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: South40
I always thought overlays were stupid. Except that cell phones should be on separate area codes, because they really don't have a geographical home. 917 in NYC is sort of like this.

Does anyone still pay for long distance calls on an individual basis? Here I've got unlimited long distance.

27 posted on 07/23/2006 5:28:26 PM PDT by Koblenz (Holland: a very tolerant country. Until someone shoots you on a public street in broad daylight...)
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To: mariabush

Los Angeles was a lot bigger so since the mid 1939s our number was OLympia 8388 and it was later changed to NOrmandy 48388 and when they instituted area codes they made it 213-664-8388.

28 posted on 07/23/2006 5:33:17 PM PDT by dalereed
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To: Berosus
I thought California was supposed to be ahead of the rest of the country in everything.

Actually, we're up to three hours behind.

29 posted on 07/23/2006 5:41:59 PM PDT by South40 (Amnesty for ILLEGALS is a slap in the face to the USBP!)
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To: Alberta's Child
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.

The flip side on this is the cell phone explosion... It not really land lines numbers but cell numbers that are eating up area codes... we would have been better off to have cell and land lines have different not intermixed areacodes/prefix like some other country do

So let say you have 310 as an area code... 310 would only be given to land lines ... but if you have a cell in the same area you would has a 3 digit cell network "area code" prefix that would only be for cell phones

The whole idea behind area codes is for a hierarchal routing system or "address" for the call

30 posted on 07/23/2006 5:45:00 PM PDT by tophat9000 (If it was illegal French Canadians would La Raza back them? Racist back their race over country)
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To: South40
I live in the 847 area code, and we have had to dial 11 digits for several years. And, with all the numbers stored in my cell phone, it's not that often that I have to dial 11 digits anyway.

Just think, if computers could have been programmed to just add one more digit at the end of all numbers, there would be no need to dial 11 digits.

31 posted on 07/23/2006 5:45:01 PM PDT by Bernard (God helps those who helps themselves - The US Government takes in the rest.)
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To: dalereed

LOL, those old "word" prefixes. We had POplar and DIamond.

32 posted on 07/23/2006 5:50:33 PM PDT by Yaelle
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To: TankerKC

Same growing up in Western NC - we had one long ring - two short rings was the other side of the party line. Back when dirt was new... *g

33 posted on 07/23/2006 5:50:47 PM PDT by NCjim (The more I use Windows, the more I love UNIX)
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To: Berosus
10-digit dialing is the invention of the Devil himself. And it is not used in California.

I travel a LOT. There is no reason in the world I should have to dial the area code I am in.

But (as the article says and we'll see what happens -- last time they tried this people rose up violently), if you have to dial your own area code then you should be allowed to dial the "1."

There is NOTHING stupider than a voice saying "you do not to have to dial 1..." If the thing knew my intent, it should have just put the call through. If I am dialing the 666 area code and start with 1-666 it should KNOW there isn't a 2-666 and just put me through!

But I have had to work with the idiots who do telecommunications systems programming. These guys are engineers with no programming expertise and that has been the case since switches went digital. It is like having a medical examination by a forensic pathologist. They know where all the parts go but they don't know how they hang together.

I was a Telecommunications Manager and had to work with these algorithmic novices. I know of what I speak. Now I work with and real systems have had to hook real computer systems to these underdesigned pieces of crap. Most of them don't have a development system and NONE have the full array pf testing environments that have been standard in real computing for 40 years!
34 posted on 07/23/2006 5:51:43 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (A Conservative will die for individual freedom. A Liberal will kill you for the good of society.)
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To: dalereed
I agree with you. Australia I believe has 8 digit phone numbers. The whole USA should have switched years ago, when it would have been less painful to do so.

How long ago was that switch to 7 in LA? Must have been a while. As a kid in the early 60's we had 7 in the Orange County.
35 posted on 07/23/2006 5:56:16 PM PDT by SoCal Pubbie
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To: South40

If Mayberry gets another area code, does that mean that the phone company has to hire someone to help Sara?

36 posted on 07/23/2006 5:57:14 PM PDT by aomagrat (Just when you think you have it made in the shade, the tree falls on you.)
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To: South40

11? Most of Texas is 10 digit dialing. Where is the extra digit?

37 posted on 07/23/2006 5:58:56 PM PDT by Melas (Offending stupid people since 1963)
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To: Yaelle

at least in that era I knew exactly where anyone was by what their prefix was anywhere in L.A. or Orange County.

What really started to make thing dificult is when they started switching from manual relays to digital relays that took up about 10% of the space and numbers could be changed, hooked up, or disconnected with a simple computer entry.

They took entire areas, shut down the entire system for switch over and you got new numbers from a switching facility that had been converted already.

After they did that you couldn't keep track of where the numbers were.

It was about the same time that they broke up ATT and Pac Bell because we worked on every telephone company building ib L.A. putting in deviding walls so ATT employees couldn't get to Pac Bell employees, what a joke!

38 posted on 07/23/2006 5:59:40 PM PDT by dalereed
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To: Xenalyte

My question exactly. Where is the 11th digit coming from?

39 posted on 07/23/2006 6:00:04 PM PDT by Melas (Offending stupid people since 1963)
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To: SoCal Pubbie

"How long ago was that switch to 7 in LA?"

It was in the late 1940s as I remember.

40 posted on 07/23/2006 6:01:28 PM PDT by dalereed
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