Reason #2 to love Brevard County: Our kick-ass area code!
Unlike other area codes around the country, Brevard County’s “321″ is neither arbitrary nor inconsequential. Our area code has both a meaning and a story behind it. And yes, the whole, Cape Canavera/KSC-inspired “3…2…1… blast off!” thing is true. It’s not a myth!
In Sept. 1998, a space enthusiast and telecom hobbyist named Robert “Ozzie” Osband learned that the Florida Public Service Commission was holding hearings on “407 Area Code Relief.” With strong feelings on the matter, the Titusville resident did some internet research and prepared his testimony.
Among other things, Ozzie proposed that Brevard County adopt area code 321. Commission officials loved the idea–it would make the mandatory switch so much more palatable to folks whose numbers were scheduled to change–and as a result, petitioned the North American Numbering Plan Administration (the agency that assigns area codes) to grant it to the Space Coast. Eventually, they did. And the rest is history.
Check out Ozzie’s informative Web site, 321Liftoff.net to read his testimony, view the timeline of 321-related events, read some of the resulting press, and access Ozzie’s comprehensive collection of launch information and resources. Want to see a launch? Ozzie’s the go-to guy for information.
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Ozzie still lives in Titusville. He’s a ham radio operator and consultant, and is still (arguably) the U.S. space program’s biggest fan. Ozzie is also an all-around nice guy who graciously shared his story with us and answered our questions, which we asked simply because we think the entire 321 thing is just plain awesome. Here’s what Ozzie had to say…
On making the case for a 321 area code:
I love the idea that we send people, satellites and probes into space. I’d love to go myself, but since I can’t, I always support the folks that do send things there, and who go into space.
Once I’d figured out what our new Area Code should be, I had to try to make it happen! I even took a day off from work – unpaid – to go to the Public Service Commission hearing. You only get so many chances when the timing is right to do something like this, and I felt I had to try. It worked!
On being somewhat of a local celebrity:
I recently gave my business card to a fellow who said, “You can’t have the telephone number 321-Liftoff, because the guy that got us the 321 area code has that number. I replied, “That’s right. I’m the guy.” As is usual when people find out I got us the area code, he shook my hand and thanked me profusely. It’s great to know that people appreciate it.
A lot of people tell me they didn’t recognize the significance of the digits at first, and I’ve found that unless you say “3-2-1″ and “countdown” in the same sentence, people don’t naturally put the two together. Once you point out the matter, however, they tend to be delighted… and surprised that a government agency allowed it to happen.
On what he’s up to nowadays:
These days I put up web pages meant to be read on mobile phone web browsers. When someone is standing along the Indian River or Atlantic Ocean waiting for a launch, most phones can’t pick out the “frame” containing the latest launch status on the SpaceFlightNow.com mission status page. My mobile-ready page has, as menu choice number one, the link to only that information, so you can know what’s happening as the clock ticks past the T minus Zero time with no launch happening. You can press the “1″ key on your phone dial to get there, or tap the graphic of a “1″ key I’ve put on the page for the touch-screen users.
It’s the combination of Phone Phreak and Space Cadet that got me the Area Code in the first place. I still claim to be both.
Thank you, Ozzie, for sharing your story and for getting Brevard County the most apt—and most delightful—area code in the country.
Readers, make sure to say “Thanks!” to Ozzie in the comments! Without him, we wouldn’t have reason #2 to love Brevard County… our area code!