Beginning May 15, U.S. Cellular customers will be required to dial the area code and phone number when placing a call from a wireless phone – even to numbers within the 918 area code, said Mike Dellwo, Network Engineer for U.S. Cellular.
The change will not affect how customers are charged for local or long distance calls, the company said is a letter to customers on April 21.
“We’re introducing 10-digit dialing in order to standardize our dialing process and be prepared for future area code splits or overlays, Dellwo said.
An area code split or overlay is eventually going to happen in the Tulsa market, Dellwo said.
“By implementing 10-digit dialing in advance we are proactively addressing this issue and staying ahead of the curve,” he said.
It is estimated that the block of numbers available in the 918 area code will last until 2011, said Matt Skinner of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
“It is a complicated formula that track numbers,” he said. “It is not based on just population growth but on the pace of business development and the rate of demand for those numbers.”
A spokesman for T-Mobile said the company would go to 10-digit dialing in the Tulsa market but declined to say when. Spokesmen from AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Nextel, Sprint and Cricket Communications said they currently have no plans to switch to 10-digit dialing for local calls.
U.S. Cellular customers in Oklahoma City had 10-digit dialing “from Day One,” Dellwo said. U.S. Cellular introduced service in that market in 2003.