EL PASO, Texas - Starting Oct. 4, West Texas residents in the 915 and the newly created 432 and 325 area codes will need to dial 10 digits (the area code plus the seven-digit number) when making local calls between the three area codes.
The dialing change applies to calls placed from a wireline or wireless phone. Local calls made within the same area code can still be dialed using seven digits.
During a six-month grace period that began April 5, the public has been able to make seven-digit local calls between the three area codes. The 432 and 325 codes were created to help meet the growing need for phone numbers in West Texas. Between Oct. 4 and Dec. 7, people who dial just seven digits when calling between area codes will hear a recording telling them they need to redial using the proper area code.
Creation of the new area codes will not affect rates or local calling areas. Calls that are local today will continue to be local calls after Oct. 4. Dialing long-distance calls within the three area codes will also not change.
The public should continue to dial "1," plus the area code, plus the seven-digit number to place a long-distance call. Dialing 911 to reach emergency services and 411 to reach directory assistance will also not change.
During the remainder of the grace period, consumers and businesses are encouraged to reprogram their telecommunications equipment and services including computer modems using dial-up service for Internet access, fax machines, speed-dialing lists, call-forwarding services and any other equipment that automatically dials telephone numbers.
Wireless phone users especially are encouraged to contact their provider or visit their provider's nearest wireless retail store because it may be necessary to reprogram their handset with the appropriate area code. Security or alarm systems and business phone systems also must be programmed to handle the new dialing pattern.
The 325 area code will serve Abilene, Brady, Brownwood, Kingsland, Rising Star, San Angelo, Snyder and surrounding communities. The 432 area code will serve Alpine and southward to Big Bend National Park, Fort Davis, Fort Stockton, Midland, Odessa, Pecos, Seminole, Van Horn and surrounding cities. Far West Texas, including Clint, Dell City, El Paso and Faben, will remain in the 915 area code.
In 2002, the Texas Public Utility Commission decided to introduce two new area codes in the 915 region to meet the demand for new telephone numbers. Demand is growing rapidly as West Texans and phone customers nationwide increasingly have a choice of companies to provide telecommunications service, and these competing companies require phone numbers for their customers. NeuStar Inc., the national administrator for area codes, selected 325 and 432 as the new area codes for the eastern and central parts of the 915 area code region.
Know the Code, a consortium of more than 15 telephone service providers that serve West Texas, anticipates a smooth transition for West Texans. Know the Code members include Alenco Communications, Arch Paging Inc., AT&T, AT&T Wireless, Birch Telecommunications, Cingular Wireless, Comanche County Telephone, Digital Cellular of Texas, Grande Communications, Mid-Tex Cellular, Nextel Communications, NTS Communications, SBC, T-Mobile, Verizon, Verizon Wireless and Western Wireless (dba Cellular One).
The companies have jointly conducted a customer education program, including print and radio advertisements, to inform area residents and businesses of the changes and to urge them to reprogram their telecommunications equipment and services to use the new area codes as appropriate.
Customers can obtain more information about the new West Texas area codes by visiting http://www.texas-code.com or by contacting their local or wireless telephone company.