California State University, Long Beach
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For Telecommunications’ Adams Kelly It’s a Numbers Game

Published: December 1, 2008

Auralynn Adams Kelly
Photo by David J. Nelson
Telecommunications’ (l-r) Pamela Poppin, Auralynn Adams Kelly, Kelly Vu and Rusty Slota.

For Auralynn Adams Kelly, it’s a numbers game and those numbers are 9-8-5.

If those three digits seem familiar, well, they should since they comprise the prefix of nearly all of the phone numbers on campus. Still, there are a good deal of numbers with the 985 prefix that don’t belong to CSULB, in use by the local community, and Adams Kelly and her staff are proceeding with due diligence to acquire them.

“For a couple of decades, the campus has maintained a large portion of the entire 985-prefix,” said Adams Kelly, the Telecommunications Lead. “Approximately 70 percent of the 985 prefix already belonged to the campus, but recently we have been acquiring more of the numbers in order to prepare for future expansion. The portions of the 985 prefix that did not belong to us included those in the 985-0000 and 985-3000 ranges, as well as portions of the 985-1000 and 985-9000 ranges.”

So, since October 2006, Adams Kelly and her staff have been methodically tracking down non-university 985-prefixed numbers that, for one reason or another are no longer in use, and then requesting those from campus carrier Verizon.

“For the longest time we have had certain ranges of the 985 prefix and now we are in the process of working with Verizon to get the rest of the 985 prefix to prepare for future expansion,” said Adams Kelly. “It’s a slow process, but we’ve been successful in acquiring numbers in the four targeted ranges such as 985-3000 through 985-3999 — those are DID (direct inward dial) numbers, which means those lines are accessible from the public network.”

Adams Kelly and her staff begin calling Verizon every other month to see if they had any 985-prefixed numbers available and every other month her staff would systematically call numbers CSULB didn’t have and note if the numbers were in or not in service.

“When we find a big group of numbers that aren’t in service any longer, I contact Verizon and ask if we can get those numbers,” said Adams Kelly. “We have to do it by attrition. When somebody moves or decides to change their phone number it frees up the old number and as soon as we know it’s available, we grab it. At the start of this process, there were 2,700 numbers we did not have and we have reduced that number down to 1,390, so we have made it about halfway through just by sheer tenacity. When we started the project, we had nearly 70 percent of 10,000 985-prefix numbers and have gained another 16 percent of the entire 985 prefix, but as we get down to the last few hundred, of course, it will be harder and harder to get those.”

Most campus members may not be aware, but there are extensions that can be called from on and off campus, and then other numbers that can be called only from on campus. Right now some of those extensions seem as though they should have a 985 prefix, but when the transition is complete, it will be very clear if a number is only dialable from another on campus phone because it will start with “4.” Currently, the extension numbers beginning with “5” don’t give you any indication whether or not they can be called from the outside world.

“When the new campus phone directory comes out in January,” said Adams Kelly, “there will be some extension numbers beginning with a ‘4’ and people might think it’s a misprint, but it’s not.”

So, what does this all mean to the campus?

“Well, after all the changes are complete, the campus will double its capacity for phone numbers from 10,000 to 20,000,” said Adams Kelly. “Among the 985 prefix numbers, there will be an allotment of 3,000 lines for student housing and 7,000 for administrative/academic departments.”

These new additional numbers will also make the university ready for future needs of its growing campus. The acquisition of the new 985 numbers also protects the university from being forced to integrate other prefixes into the campus phone system, which, at the very least, could be confusing, not to mention costly if an entirely new prefix replaced 985 for all DID numbers just to get all 10,000 numbers in the prefix.

“We don’t want to be in the same situation like other schools that have multiple prefixes, which is not only hard to manage internally, but confusing for their users,” said Adams Kelly. “Putting everyone under the same prefix is a lot better. Getting an entirely new prefix and changing every single number on campus would mean we would have to change all of our publications, all of our online information and everyone else who has our DID numbers published out there would have to change the prefix. About a year ago when I looked at the master plan, I realized we would need more numbers than just the remainder of the ‘1000’ and ‘9000 ranges, so we decided to get the numbers in the zero thousand and the three thousand ranges, then that way we won’t have to worry about it again. I figured if we started early enough we would most likely have all the numbers we needed and hopefully the entire prefix by the time we actually had to deploy them.”

Adams Kelly said she also crunched the numbers for the on-campus residence halls and as far as just telephone lines go, she estimated twice as many DID numbers will be required.

“That is one of the reasons I am trying to prepare,” she said. “The expansion on campus is for something like 16 buildings in the next 10 to 20 years. I know we’re trying to get ready for new campus housing, other new buildings and Residential Learning (formerly Brooks College) student housing as well, so we are trying to prepare for all that.

“I figured if we started early, we will have all the numbers by the time they are needed. Even without any further campus expansion, we were up to something like 90 percent usage of our DID ranges and preferably you want to have more than 10 percent of all numbers available at all times because they should really have a recycle time. That way new users are less likely to get all kinds of wrong numbers.”