Woodward, Okla. —
Starting Monday, Pioneer Cellular customers will have to dial an area code for each call they make.
Customers must include the 3-digit area code along with the 7-digit phone number not only to place calls, but also to send texts and picture messages from cellular devices.
Cindy Gore, public relations specialist for Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, Inc., said the 10-digit dialing requirement is becoming an industry standard.
"It has been moving this way for a while," she said.
Gore explained that the additional numbers are needed to help make sure that customers reach the exact person they are trying to reach.
"Anymore there are so many numbers that the system doesn't (automatically) know which area code you are calling," she said.
Gore noted that different communities and different geographic areas are often marked by specific prefixes, which are the first 3 numbers in a 7-digit telephone number.
But with an increase in wireless customers, there are more numbers that share prefixes but within different area codes, she said.
"For example, in Kingfisher (which is in the 405 area code) our prefix is 375," she said. "But the same prefix may also be used in the 580 area. So it requires a 10-digit number for the translation part of our system to identify where exactly the call is going to."
While it may take a bit of adjustment for some customers, the overall goal of the 10-digit dialing is to ensure that when a customer places a call, that call goes to the exact number that the customer intended, Gore said.
But, come Monday, customers who do not dial the 10-digit number will not be able to complete any call or successfully send text or picture messages.
"If they don't dial all 10 digits then they'll receive a message telling them to do so," Gore said.
To help safeguard against any issues with the switch to 10-digit dialing, Pioneer Cellular is urging its customers to ensure that all the contacts in their cellular devices include the area code.