Area Code Countdown Continues; Callers Should Use New 724 Area Code Now

Area Code Countdown Continues; Callers Should Use New 724 Area Code Now
Mandatory Dialing of New Code Begins April 30
April 13, 1998

Media contact:Sharon Shaffer, 412-633-5574
Harry Mitchell, 304-344-7562

PITTSBURGH - Time is running out for western Pennsylvanians to get ready for the new 724 area code. Beginning April 30, callers will have to use the 724 area code to reach numbers in the new code's geographic area.

The 724 area code will serve the region surrounding the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, while Pittsburgh and most of its suburbs will keep the current 412 area code.

"Bell Atlantic wants to make this change trouble-free for our customers," said Sandy Scott, Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania manager-customer education for the new area code implementation. "We want to ensure that people are aware of the new code and are already making necessary changes to their phone systems, speed dialing lists or fax machines. Paying attention to these details now will save customers potential headaches when mandatory dialing of the new area code begins April 30."

The area code change will not affect the price of phone service, and a customer's local calling area will remain the same, even if it includes both area codes. Callers in the 412 and 724 area codes will continue to dial seven digits to numbers in the same area code, and "1" plus the area code and seven-digit phone number for calls to other area codes.

Through April 29, callers in the current 412 area code may reach a number in the new 724 area code - Greensburg, for example - either by dialing "1" plus the new 724 area code and the seven-digit telephone number or by dialing only the seven-digit number.

From April 30 through mid-July, callers who forget to use the new area code will hear a recorded reminder telling them to first dial "1" plus the new code.

Emergency Numbers May Be Affected

Customers in communities without a 911 emergency system should make sure they know the correct telephone number to call for emergency services such as ambulance, fire and police if they are near the boundary of the 412 and 724 area codes. "Some customers in these communities will have to dial an area code as well as the seven-digit number for emergency services," said Scott. Bell Atlantic is sending bill inserts to customers in these communities to help them determine whether their emergency service numbers are affected. "Customers should write the complete phone number, including area code if needed, for any emergency services on the special card included with the bill insert, in their telephone directory and any other convenient location for quick and easy reference," said Scott. "In addition, they should program these emergency services numbers in any speed dialing list they use. Doing so will ensure that customers can reach emergency services as quickly as possible."

Spreading the Word about New Code

Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania is helping customers learn to use the new 724 area code through an extensive education campaign, which includes customer letters and bill inserts, as well as newspaper and radio advertising. Residents have seen information on the new code at many local events, including home, boat and garden shows and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games.

In addition, the company is working with the Allegheny County Department of Aging to distribute area code material to senior citizens centers throughout the county. Bell Atlantic representatives also have attended several senior citizens events over the past few months to share information about the new code.

To answer questions about the new 724 area code, Bell Atlantic has established a toll-free hotline (800-500-2167), which can be called Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Another hotline (800-TOLL412 or 800-865-5412) is helping callers determine in advance if the number they want to dial is a toll call. And an Internet site (http://www.bellatlantic.com/areacode) provides a wealth of information about area code changes in Pennsylvania and across Bell Atlantic's service area.

Other Helpful Hints to Prepare for New Code

Customers should prepare for the area code change by taking the following steps:

  • Reprogram telecommunications services and equipment to include the new area code. This includes computer modems, Call Forwarding (including Ultra Forward® and Select Forward), Call Block, Priority Call, Bell Atlantic® Easy Voice, Call Gate, Special Delivery® service on Home Voice Mail Service, pager notification on features such as Home Voice Mail Service, and speed dialing lists - particularly those on office phones, cellular phones and fax machines.

  • Notify people who call you regularly. Tell friends, relatives, customers, employees, local affiliates, business associates, suppliers and others.

  • Make certain the new area code appears in your company's ads and promotional materials. These include print ads, radio and TV spots, Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages advertising, classified ads, signs, Internet sites, recorded messages, cars and trucks, billboards, mugs, key chains or anything else that displays your new area code and telephone number.

  • Put the new area code on printed materials, such as stationery, business cards, invoices, purchase orders, brochures, catalogs, product packaging, internal records, checks, company directories and labels.

  • Check with suppliers to make sure your telecommunications equipment can accept the new 724 area code. Burglar alarm systems and PBX exchanges also may need to be reprogrammed.

These changes will help prevent problems April 30 when the transition period ends and callers must use the new area code.

To prepare for the change, Bell Atlantic will reprogram or modify the following services to reflect the new 724 area code: Centrex and Centrex Extend services, Foreign Exchange Service, Remote Call Forwarding, Call Restriction, directory listings and numbers blocked at the customer's request.

(NOTE TO EDITORS: For a list of telephone number exchanges - the first three digits of a seven-digit phone number - that will be switched to the 724 area code, see Bell Atlantic's area code Web site at bellatlantic.com/areacode/Pages/pa.htm

Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX - is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With 40.5 million telephone access lines and six million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 21 countries.

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