PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Bell Atlantic, which has merged with GTE to form Verizon Communications, Inc., is kicking off a campaign to inform western Pennsylvanians about the introduction of a new area code next year and a new way to make local phone calls.
Beginning in August 2001, local telephone companies may assign numbers in the new 878 area code to customers who request new phone service, an additional line or - in some cases - who want to move their service to another location. The new 878 area code will have the same geographic boundaries as the current 412 and 724 area codes. This new code, called an "overlay," will eliminate the need to split the existing codes into smaller areas.
Existing phone numbers in the 412 and 724 area codes will not change, but all callers will need to dial the area code and seven-digit phone number - or "Ten-number Numbersm" - when they make any calls within or between these three area codes.
Customers will have one year to prepare for this dialing change. "Customers in the 412 and 724 area codes can begin dialing the Ten-number Numbers July 17," said Dorothy Bruzek, Bell Atlantic area code customer education manager in Pennsylvania. "Starting July 17, calls will go through if customers dial those calls with either seven or 10 digits.
"Next July, callers who forget to dial the Ten-number Number will hear a message instructing them to dial both the area code and telephone number," she added. "Bell Atlantic encourages customers to begin dialing the Ten-number Number starting July 17 to get used to this change as soon as possible."
The demand for new telephone numbers is exploding as Pennsylvanians increasingly have a choice of which company provides their local phone service, and these competing companies require phone numbers for their customers.
This heavy demand for phone numbers is driving the need for new area codes in Pennsylvania and across the country. Neustar, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, last August announced that a new area code was needed in western Pennsylvania. The 724 area code was carved out of the 412 code two years ago. With the addition of the 878 code, Pennsylvania will have 10 area codes.
The additional area code and move to Ten-number Number dialing in western Pennsylvania will not affect current telephone numbers, dialing to reach 911 service, the price of telephone service or local calling areas. A local call today will still be a local call when 10-digit dialing and the new area code are in effect. Customers can get more information on their local calling areas by checking the customer guide section in the front of their Bell Atlantic White Pages directories.
Consumers and businesses must reprogram any telephone system or optional service such as Call Forwarding that dials other phone numbers in western Pennsylvania by July 12, 2001. (NOTE TO EDITORS: A list of some equipment and services that may require reprogramming follows this release.)
Bell Atlantic has kicked off an extensive public education campaign to inform its customers about the dialing change and new area code. This campaign will include letters to businesses, inserts in residential customers' phone bills, advertising, outreach to senior citizens and other community members and other special activities. For example, the company plans to work with local school officials to distribute coloring books on the dialing change and new area code to kindergarten through fourth-grade students in the area. Bell Atlantic has used these coloring books successfully to communicate earlier dialing plan changes in southeastern Pennsylvania and Maryland.
"We want customers to adapt to these changes as comfortably as possible, and we will do all we can to help minimize any confusion and concerns," said Bruzek.
Pennsylvanians can get more information on the area codes and dialing changes by calling Bell Atlantic's toll-free Area Code Information Line (800-500-2167) Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Customers also can visit the company's special area code pages on the World Wide Web (http://www.bellatlantic.com/areacode).
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 95 million access lines and 25 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.
Business and residential customers with phone numbers in the 412 and 724 area codes who have telephone equipment or a Bell Atlantic communications service that currently dials seven-digit phone numbers in western Pennsylvania should reprogram that equipment or service as soon as possible to dial the new 878 area code and the Ten-number Numbersm for every seven-digit number they dial today. This reprogramming must be completed by July 12, 2001.
Some examples of equipment or Bell Atlantic services that may need to be reprogrammed include:
- Computers used for Internet access
- Speed dialing lists
- Automatic dialers
- Cellular and mobile phones
- Security systems (ask your security company)
- PBX business phone systems (ask your PBX supplier)
- Fax machines
- Call Block
- Priority Call
- Home Voice Mail or Answer Call/Voice Mail features
- Call Forwarding
- Call Gatesm Service
- Do Not Disturb Service
In addition, be sure to update phone lists, databases, Web pages, billing records and address books to include area codes. Notify business contacts, associates, friends and relatives of your area code. And be sure to include the area code when exchanging telephone numbers.
For more information on Pennsylvania area codes or Ten-number Number dialing, call Bell Atlantic's Area Code Information Line on 800-500-2167 (toll-free) Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Customers also can visit the company's area code pages on the World Wide Web (http://www.bellatlantic.com/areacode).