BOSTON -- New Year's Day is a good time for callers to begin making a habit of dialing the new Massachusetts area codes, according to Bell Atlantic (NYSE: BEL).
As New England residents and businesses change to their 1998 calendars, the company urges customers to reprogram speed dialers, computer software, fax machines, medical and security alarms, modems and other equipment to dial the new Massachusetts area codes.
Recently, the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy (DTE) extended the transition period until Feb. 1, 1998 during which calls can be made using either the new or the old area codes.
"With all of the changes and turmoil around the new area codes, we want to help our customers plan ahead and make as smooth a transition as possible," said William J. McIntyre, Bell Atlantic -- Massachusetts president and CEO. "It can be an easier transition if customers begin to use the new area codes exclusively and reprogram their services and equipment before Feb. 1."
According to McIntyre, here's what callers can do to ease the transition to the new codes:
- Dial 7 or 11 digits. That's the easiest way to remember the correct dialing patterns:
- For local calls within your own area code, dial 7 digits.
- For all other calls, dial 11 digits ("1" + area code + 7-digit number).
In addition, because the DTE simplified its new rule for local calls that cross area code boundaries, customers will have the option of dialing just the area code and 7-digit number for these types of calls.
Bell Atlantic has to reprogram its switches for the new dialing pattern. Many customers already can dial local calls to another area codes using "1" + area code. By Jan. 20, 1998 this dialing pattern will be available throughout eastern Massachusetts. Callers currently have the option of dialing these calls using just the area code + 7-digit number.
Be ready by Feb. 1
If your area code is changing, notify friends, businesses, vendors, and customers. Beginning Feb. 1, 1998, as each local switch is converted to accept only the new area codes, calls will not be completed without the correct area code. Instead, callers will hear announcements instructing them how to re-dial. Even though it will take about 60 days for Bell Atlantic to reprogram all its switches to accept only the new area codes, customers should make their preparations for the new area codes by Feb. 1, 1998.
Reprogram modems, autodialers, speed dialing, call forwarding, voice dialing, security and medical alarms.
Contact your equipment provider to reprogram private branch exchanges (PBX's) and other telephone equipment to accept the new 781 and 978 area codes. (PBX owners also should ensure their equipment is programmed to handle area codes without a 0 or 1 as a middle digit.) Some ISDN users in the new area codes will have to reprogram their terminal equipment as well.
The new area codes do not affect rates or local calling areas. A local call is still a local call, a toll call is still a toll call. Residents should still dial 9-1-1 to reach emergency services.
Customers can get more information on the new area codes by visiting Bell Atlantic's Internet Web site .
The new Bell Atlantic -- formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX -- is at the forefront of the new communications, information and entertainment industry. With 40 million telephone access lines and 5.8 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.