The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that the FCC has the authority to regulate the dialing methods used within localities. Why would I possibly care about this? Because the locality in question is New York City, and the ruling means that in under a year, all us New Yorkers will have to start using 10-digit dialing in order to make all calls within the city, even in the same area code. (The flip side of the coin, though, is that with five area codes in the city these days, a huge number of calls already have to be made with 10-digit dialing.)


Weird, I assumed that you would already have been dialing 10 digits for every number. Since we added the new 971 area code in Portland, we’ve had to dial the area code for every call (even though most every number is still in the 503 area code).

• Posted by: Tim Gebhart on Oct 3, 2001, 11:28 AM

Maryland was the first area to be forced to use 10 digit dialing. In the DC area we have three jurisdictions with about 5 area codes (two areas have the overlay and DC will eventually get it when they need a second area code).

At first I was ready to write to the FCC to protest this. But then I decided that really what was happening was that we were slowly migrating over to a system where “locale” was insignificant, i.e. we’d be carrying our phone numbers with us, no matter where we resided. And, this is exactly how this is turning out. I can be almost anywhere in the US and be contacted on my cell.

The nice thing about the DC area is that because we’ve always had multiple codes in the metro area we don’t have to dial a “1” before making a call to another code in the area (in fact, when I first moved here we didn’t have to dial any area codes within the metro area, even if it was to a phone in a different state)!

• Posted by: Jeff on Oct 3, 2001, 2:31 PM

The reason this is being done is to relieve the pressure on the number space available for area codes. It used to be that the phone system identified an area code because its second digit was always either 0 or 1, but that only permitted 200 area codes total, and we’ve long since needed more than that supply. But if you permit, say, 751 as both an area code and as a local prefix, then how does the phone system know at the end of seven dialed digits whether you’re finished dialing or whether there are three more digits to come? The whole country needs to settle on 10-digit dialing so that more area codes can be implemented. This change will add another 800 area codes to the number space, which will help a lot.

• Posted by: Steven C. Den Beste on Oct 3, 2001, 5:38 PM
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