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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 1996
BELL ATLANTIC LAUNCHES STATEWIDE PUBLIC
INFORMATION CAMPAIGN IN MARYLAND
Ads Acquaint Customers With 10-Digit Local
Baltimore, MD -- Bell Atlantic today launched a
information campaign in Maryland, encouraging customers to begin using
the "Ten-number Number" for local calling. The new dialing
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