History of Area Codes 916 and 279

History of Area Codes 916 and 279

The exchange of conversations over the telecommunication has always been the subject of interest to many. Over time, efforts have been made to enhance the numbering plan that covers vast continents. One such attempt was made by the AT&T and the Bell System that devised the infamous North American Numbering Plan (NANP) in the 1940s, originally consolidating 25 distinct regions in 20 countries primarily in North America, including the Caribbean.

The NANP divides the area covered by its members into numbering plan areas (NPAs) which are encoded numerically with a three-digit telephone number prefix called the area code. We are here with another set of area codes, which are often used interchangeably. In this blog, we will focus our attention on the area codes 916 and 279.

Area code 916 is one of three original area codes in the state of California, which was devised in 1947 and initially, served most parts of northern California. By the 1950s, due to the realignment of the area codes in California, 916 was rotated to cover the northeastern corner. It then covered the areas from the Sierra Nevada to the Central Valley, and then as a part of realignment Sacramento was included in the area code 916 and removed from the area code 415.

However, with time, the coverage of the area code 916 was limited to the greater Sacramento area only. Let us see the timeline of this change of area.

On March 1, 1959, the numbering plan area was split immediately, creating the area code 707 from 916, out of the northwest portion. Again, on November 1, 1997, the area code was divided. This time, the split was in the northeastern part, including Redding, Yreka, and Mount Shasta, and the area code 530 was created, rendering the area code 916 only to the areas in and around Sacramento. On this very day, Dixon was also separated from 916 to form area code 707. Soon after this split, area code 916 became the only one of the 86 original area codes which no longer covers any portion of its original area as assigned by the NANP in 1947.
But, due to cell phone and other devices proliferation, a demand for more numbers was created in the Sacramento region. Thus, in 2017, the CPUC decided to make an immediate change in the NPA and approved overlaying the area code 916 to come into force in 2018. The changes were to be seen in effect by December 2018, with the allocation of new prefixes. Hence, on February 9, 2017, the CPUC revealed the new overlay area code 279.

Today, both the area codes 916 and 279 serve as the Californian telephonic area code for the Sacramento metropolitan area in northern California, and the largest city under this NPA is the capital city, Sacramento.

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