The Miami Valley is eight months away from a new area code, 326, that will be overlaid atop the existing 937 area code, prompting some cities and businesses to prepare now.
The plan, which will affect new phone subscribers and those trying to contact them, also mandates 10-digit dialing for everyone.
“There are 7.92 million possible phone numbers in any given area code,” Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) spokesman Matt Schilling said. “We are literally running out of phone numbers in that area code.”
Beginning Feb. 8, 2020, all local phone calls will require dialing an area code, plus the 7-digit number. On March 8, 2020, the new 326 area code takes effect, according to the PUCO plan announced in May of 2018.
The 937 area code is expected to run out of available phone numbers in the third quarter of 2020, according to Schilling. All current 937 area code subscribers will continue to maintain their current numbers and 937 area code.
Area code 326 will serve west-central Ohio to the north and east of Cincinnati, including the communities of Beavercreek, Centerville, Oakwood, Dayton, Fairborn, Huber Heights, Kettering, Piqua, Riverside, Sidney, Springfield, Trotwood, Troy, and Xenia, in addition to many smaller communities within the area.
Land lines and cell service will be affected by the area code change, as well as ATMs, credit card readers, security systems and Life Alert type programs, according to Schilling.
City officials in Kettering are making sure that employees are ready for the 10-digit change and area code switch. An internal memo was sent that states that departments should begin identifying and changing speed-dial numbers and automated dialings systems such as building alarms to include an area code.
Jack Kuntz, director of development in Clayton said, “as with everything, as we receive more information regarding this change, we’ll communicate it with our residents on our various social media platforms, our quarterly newsletters, our website and through our trash mailer. We don’t have an plans at this point to hold special meetings regarding the change, however if the need arises, it’s definitely something we’d consider if it would assist our residents and business community transition to the new area code.”
Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleston said the county’s Data Processing Team has had some discussions about the topic.
“They feel prepared for the change and do not anticipate many issues,” he said. “The biggest issue will be awareness of the requirement to go back to 10-digit dialing on behalf of our employees and the public.”
Eric Sweetman, Troy City Schools director of technology, said the district is considering new construction in the future, and is prepared to deal with the area code change.
“We have approximately 300 direct dial numbers in the 937 area code that we have contracted from our phone carrier since the early 2000s. We are able to reassign phones in our phone system to these numbers as necessary,” Sweetman said. “We are currently only using a portion of these since classroom phones are not reachable directly from an outside number; we want those calls to go through the main offices. We are in good shape for the future.”
Xenia spokesman Lee Warren said city officials are aware of the impending changes and “have had embryonic internal discussions on the subject, but we will address any city involvement and just what level of direct or major impact there is to our citizens in our weekly City Manager’s Executive cabinet meeting before launching any specific plans.”
Frank Blackstone, a local resident and retired pharmacist, remembers when the 937 area code was split from 513 in 1986. He explained that people are now more adept with technology, and it shouldn’t cause too much trouble in the long run.
“Potentially confusing, but we will endure,” Blackstone said, adding tongue-in-cheek about the earlier 937 switch: “I think there was a total eclipse of the sun and rivers flowed backwards. I am just saying, be prepared.”
The PUCO Call Center is available to assist customers having problems with their utility services as well, Schilling said.
“While the mandatory 10-digit dialing is taking effect on Feb. 8, 2020, the 937 isn’t projected to run out of numbers until 2021,” Schilling said.
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