Oregonians who live in the 541 area code won’t be in danger of running out of telephone numbers. That’s because the Oregon Public Utility Commission, after a thorough investigation, has approved a new area code relief plan that will ensure there are enough telephone numbers available for 24 more years.
The new 458 area code will serve the same geographic area as the current 541 area code, which includes southern and eastern portions of the state. The Commission will work with industry representatives in producing media releases, customer education materials such as bill inserts, and public forums to inform the public before the new area code takes effect in 2010.
Customers will be able to call from within the 541 area with either 10 digits or just the seven-digit telephone number for a six-month grace period before 10-digit dialing becomes mandatory. This will give customers a chance to get used to the change. After 10-digit dialing becomes mandatory, callers who dial seven digits will receive a recorded message instructing them to dial 10 digits.
The area code is the second overlay approved for the state by the Oregon Public Utility Commission. With the change Oregon will have four area codes. They are 503/971 and 541/458. The new area code was assigned by the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), which is a neutral third-party administrator that oversees the assignment of area codes.
“After weighing the options, we believe this solution is the least disruptive option and will meet the demand for new telephone numbers more than 20 years into the future,” Commission Chairman Lee Beyer said. “I’m confident customers will have enough time to make any programming changes before the new area code takes effect.”
All existing numbers will retain the 541 area code, but new telephone customers for local phone service, cellular and paging services, and alarms, for example, assigned in the same area may receive the new area code after the 2010 implementation date.
Some other key facts:
• Customers will not have to change their telephone numbers
• Local calls in the 541 area code will require dialing 10 digits.
• If a call is currently local it will remain local and if it is long distance it will still be
• There is no additional cost.
• Dialing for 911 emergency calls will
“There are a number of factors driving the demand for phone numbers such as businesses expanding to the continued popularity of cell phones,” Beyer added.
The Commission selected the overlay solution instead of a geographic split to address the number shortage. Although the geographic split would have kept seven-digit-dialing for local calls within the same area code, it would have required approximately half of the current customers to change their telephone number.
The Commission acted based on a projection that Oregon will run out of telephone numbers in the 541 area code by 2011.
The Commission approved an “All Services Overlay” after broad public input, which included 18 Open House events earlier this year, an interactive link on the PUC website and comments from the industry.
The PUC approved Oregon’s second area code in 1995, when it created the 541 area code for southern and eastern Oregon, and retained the 503 area code for the northwest part of the state. In 2000 the Commission added a 971 concentrated overlay to the 503 region and the northwest coast became part of the overlay in early 2008.