March 8, 2011

Live in the 408? Maybe Not Anymore

Here is a little news that will have some of you quaking in your boots: You could lose your prestigious 408 area code.  Oh noez!

Santa Clara County’s 408 will spin off a new area code: 669

By Bruce Newman, SJ Mercury News
Posted: 03/07/2011 06:18:25 AM PST ; Updated: 03/07/2011 01:51:36 PM PST

There are 8 million phone numbers in the naked city. And no matter who you were calling in San Jose — or large swaths of the South Bay — for the past half century, you’ve had to dial this: area code 408.

But with the explosive proliferation of cell phones, wireless IP addresses and 4G-enabled baby pacifiers, the area code that has served San Jose since neighbors could listen in on each other’s party line calls is officially "exhausted."

That conclusion — arrived at by the Orwellian-sounding North American Numbering Plan Administration, or NANPA, in December — means some South Bay phone customers will start being assigned area code 669 by the end of next year.

Deciding who gets to hang onto their 408, and who becomes a 669, is the job of the California Public Utilities Commission, which will convene hearings March 16-18 in San Jose, Los Gatos and Morgan Hill to explain the switch.

Brie is 415, Velveeta is 408.  Columnist Herb Caen played the Area Code Game in the SF Chronicle, back in the early 1980s.  That was before all those other area codes bloomed in the little family tree above.  Now I guess Brie is 650, Velveeta is 209, Kraft American is 925, Vegan Gourmet Cheese Alternative is 831, and ten pound blocks of government cheese is 510.  Oh, 415 and 408?  415 is Myzithra.  408 is whatever you put in front of them, it’s not like they’re tasting it while they’re writing iOS device drivers.

The new area code will be arriving by October 2012.  So, who’s going to go to the CPUC meetings to complain about losing their Silicon Valley area code?  There are a couple of proposals, one of them where everyone keeps their numbers and new ones are assigned the 669 code (the overlay), and the other where there is an area code split.

Next up for this kind of torture will be area code 510, forecast to run out of available phone number blocks by 2016.  415 should follow a year later.  And bet you didn’t know this: a new area code should have kicked in ten years ago, but by pooling phone number blocks everyone has been able to keep their area code and their seven digit dialing.

Below is the map of the proposed 408-669 split.  It comes from the CPUC, who obviously don’t care much about geographical features such as city borders, streets, freeways, or rivers.  So good luck figuring out whether this map actually affects you.  Also note how they don’t commit to who gets to keep the coveted 408 identity, but I’ll tell you who: it’s the B People.


But don’t get too upset, after meeting with the telephone providers,the CPUC is inclined to go with the overlay plan anyway. And that means instead of turning Los Gatos, Campbell, Saratoga, and San Jose West into 69ers, instead the newbies are going to have that 669 area code.  It also means that you’ll have to dial eleven digits when making phone calls, even to next door, or for that matter to the fax machine in the same room.  Have fun reprogramming just about anything you have that calls phone numbers, and hoping that your alarm company and your cable company and anything else doesn’t forget to switch over to 1-408+number dialing.

And what this means for Burbed readers is that Silicon Valley area code jokes are going to get a lot more raunchy.  Have fun figuring out what kind of cheese they are.

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

15 Responses to “Live in the 408? Maybe Not Anymore”

  1. Petsmart groomer Says:

    > prestigious 408 area code

    Prestigious? Huh?

  2. SEA Says:

    Imagine trying to call Jenny these days.

  3. madhaus Says:

    Prestigious with air quotes. And the 669 adds prestige that wasn’t already there.

  4. nomadic Says:

    They should have gone all in and made the new area code 666.

  5. nomadic Says:

    Excuse my ignorance, but what does the proliferation of wireless IP addresses have to do with running out of phone numbers?

  6. sfbubblebuyer Says:

    They’re talking wireless phones. So everybody has 3-4 phone numbers these days. Work phone, Cell phone, Home Phone, iPad with cellphone network… Add in a few extra numbers for kid cell phones…

    Much different than when every family had one phone number.

    At least I get to keep my 650 for awhile!

  7. madhaus Says:

    Nobody took on the 669 cheese, so I found you something. (PSFW)

  8. Real Estater Says:

    LOL. The only “prestigious” area code I’m aware of is 650.

    What happens if you have a cell phone in 408?

  9. nomadic Says:

    People still try to get prestige from an area code? Really? Oy. I thought only the O.G. liked to brag they’re from the 313.

  10. DreamT Says:

    With the advent of google voice and ability to pick any area code during set-up, I didn’t realize some still saw cachet in 650.

  11. mdhs Says:

    Speaking of kids and cell phones, both of mine want new phone numbers so they can have 669 area codes.

    Who will get 669-669-6969?

  12. PrfctAngl Says:

    Both of your kids want to have 669? How old are they?

  13. PrfctAngl Says:

    Who will get 669-669-6969?

    Orgy club may be.

  14. madhaus Says:

    #12, they are teenagers. I would say this kind of talk is pretty typical for that age, given what I see on their friends’ Facebook posts.

  15. SEA Says:

    Wait until your teenagers, and all their friends, realize that they have been priced out forever… They all should have purchased 20 years ago, back when prices were 1/4, or less.

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