Area Codes 916 & 279

916 Area Code Overlay: What Sacramento Area Businesses Need to Know

Before covering the 2018 introduction of the 916/279 area code overlay, we’ll start with some brief area code history.

In 1947, area codes were introduced to the United States and Canada. The 916 area code was one of the original three area codes in the State of California. The other two California area codes were 415 and 213.

American states and Canadian provinces that were only assigned one area code for the entire state or province had a “0” in the middle of the assigned area code. States and provinces with more than one area code assigned to them had a “1” in the middle of each area code.

Because rotary dialing of larger numbers was laborious, highly populated areas such as New York (212) and Southern California (213) were assigned low numbers to minimize the duration of “pulls” on a rotary dial.

916 Numbers Were Running Out

Where is area code 916? The area code is in the Pacific (PST) time zone.

The 916 area code serves the greater Sacramento area, which includes parts of El Dorado, Solano, Sutter, Yolo, Placer, and Sacramento counties.

California cities served by 916 include Sacramento, West Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, Citrus Heights, Rocklin, Roseville, Fair Oaks, Folsom, and El Dorado Hills.

As with other parts of the United States and Canada, population growth and the proliferation of mobile phones have resulted in the pool of numbers within an area code running out. According to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the 916 area code was forecasted to use up all its available prefixes by the 1st quarter of 2018.

Because of this, the CPUC approved a new 279 area code introduced in September 2017.

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On Feb. 9, 2017, the CPUC announced that area code 279 would be introduced as an overlay. The good news about an overlay is that no existing numbers with 916 area codes were converted to 279.

However, with an overlay, your business’s phone number may begin with 916 — but a newly formed business across the hall from you may have a phone number that starts with area code 279.

Because of the overlay, as of September 2017, all calls made within the current 916 service area needed to start with “916.” Dialing only seven digits resulted in an intercept message.

In general, landlines also require a “1” to be dialed in front of the area code. Mobile phones and VoIP phones typically do not require a 1.

If our business moves, will we lose our area code 916 phone numbers?

If your business uses traditional landline service and moves to a new city, you may lose your 916 numbers.

If you are using business VoIP or switching to business VoIP, you can keep your 916 numbers, even if your business moves outside the 916 / 279 area.

What Does The 279 Area Code Overlay Mean for Sacramento Area Businesses?

Speed Dial VoIP

While it isn’t even close to a Y2K event, a few things should be considered.

Speed Dial Numbers

If your desk phone’s preprogrammed speed dial numbers within the 916 area code are stored as seven digits, these may no longer work as of September 2017. You, an administrator, or your business telephone partner must change stored numbers such as 555-1212 to 916-555-1212.

Call Forwarding

If you have any call forwarding pointing to a seven-digit number within 916, the 916 prefix needs to be added to the forwarding string.

Burglar Alarms

If your company’s burglar alarm is programmed to dial a local seven-digit number rather than a toll-free number, the alarm should be reprogrammed to dial 1 + 916 + the seven-digit number. CBS Sacramento reported on this.

Security Doors and Gate Systems

If point-of-entry devices are currently programmed to dial seven digits, 1 + 916 should be added.

Your Local Customers

Of course, your customers within the 916 area code must also dial your area code.

The 916 split, with the 279 area code overlay, will take a little getting used to for all involved. The significant change in habit is that all phone numbers, even area code 916 numbers, will need to be dialed using ten or eleven digits.

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