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Phone dialWe predict the new year will bring rain, presidential tweets and a new complication when you make a phone call – even if you’re just calling across the street. Starting Feb. 10, any call, even across the street, will require you to dial 10 numbers – 1 + the area code + the seven-digit phone number. Here’s why.

Last February, running out of available phone prefixes in the 916 area, the California Public Utilities Commission approved the introduction of a new area code within the 916 area. 

Unlike a similar action in 1997, which split the 916 area code and forced some customers to change their area code, this change only impacts new phone numbers. Starting in March, customers requesting new or additional phone lines will get either a 279 area code or the original 916 area code, for as long as it’s available.

This change doesn’t alter calling areas or rates, and it doesn’t turn a local call into a long-distance call. It doesn’t affect calls to 911 and other essential services with three-digit phone numbers.

It does mean that you may have to reprogram some equipment, like a phone that can dial a contact list or an alarm that dials a security company. You don't have to wait for February to begin to use the new dialing procedure; it has been in service for months.

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