FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 1996
Ads Acquaint Customers With 10-Digit Local Dialing
Baltimore, MD -- Bell Atlantic today launched a statewide customer information campaign in Maryland, encouraging customers to begin using the "Ten-number Number" for local calling. The new dialing method comes as the company prepares to introduce two new area codes in the state next year.
Effective today, customers across the state will be able to use the area code plus seven-digit phone number on all local calls. During the next 12 months, local calls can be completed using either 10 digits or seven. However, on May 1, 1997, 10-digit local dialing will be required throughout the state.
"We intend to tell all Marylanders about this important change. Our primary objective is to make sure customers know about the change and their frustration is kept to a minimum," said Daniel J. Whelan, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - Maryland.
Bell Atlantic newspaper ads will begin appearing throughout the state this week. The company will also be reaching its customers initially through bill inserts and direct mail. Radio and billboard advertising will be added in 1997.
The campaign is all part of the company's implementation of an "overlay" solution to accommodate the need for additional phone numbers in the state. Maryland's supply of numbers is rapidly exhausting in the wake of an explosive demand for new telephone numbers for fax machines, cellular phones, pagers, computer modems, and other telecommunications equipment.
The overlay plan keeps the 301 and 410 area codes in the same geographic regions as they are today, but adds a new code to each region. 240 will be added to the 301 region; and 443 will be added to the 410 region. The neighbor next door could potentially have a different area code, which is why the area code will need to be included when dialing all local phone calls.
With the overlay, existing telephone numbers will not change. As the phone numbers in Maryland's 301 and 410 area codes are depleted, new phone lines will be assigned numbers with a new area code, essentially doubling the total amount of numbers that can be assigned. New area codes will not be assigned until sometime after May, 1997.
One of the alternatives to the overlay method would have split geographically the 301 and 410 area codes, thus adding two new codes to the newly split areas. However, this approach would have divided communities and forced over a million Marylanders to change their phone numbers. Even though the geographic split would have maintained 7-digit dialing in some areas, 10-digit dialing would have been required for the vast majority of customers to reach some portion of their local calling area.
Rates and local calling areas will not be affected by this new dialing change. A local call is still a local call. Long distance calls will require, as they do today, a '1' in addition to the area code and phone number. Customers will still dial 911 for Emergency Service, 411 for Directory Assistance, and 611 for Repair.
Businesses with in-house switchboards, or PBXs, are encouraged to contact their vendor to see if an upgrade is needed.
Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the new communications, entertainment and information industry. In the mid-Atlantic region, the company is the premier provider of local telecommunications and advanced services. Globally, it is one of the largest investors in the high-growth wireless communication marketplace. Bell Atlantic also owns a substantial interest in Telecom Corporation of New Zealand and is actively developing high-growth national and international business opportunities in all phases of the industry.
- Shannon Fioravanti, 703-974-5455
Paul Miller, 804-772-1460