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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 1996
NEW JERSEY TO GET NEW AREA CODES
Bell Atlantic "Overlay" Plan Proposed
to Board of Public Utilities
Newark, N.J. -- Ever wonder how many grains of sand
repose on the
seashore? Or how many stars twinkle in the sky? Or how many
telephone numbers fill the White Pages?
Unlike the infinite stars and sand grains, the number of telephone
numbers is fixed, and in the 908 and 201 area codes, New Jersey is
about to run out.
The unprecedented popularity of cellular telephones, business lines,
multiple residential lines, pagers, FAX machines and dedicated
computer lines is about to exhaust North and Central Jersey's supply
of telephone numbers.
So Bell Atlantic-New Jersey is preparing to create two new area codes,
and during hearings scheduled for April 23 and 24, the Board of Public
Utilities will begin to decide how we do that.
One method for creating new area codes would split the 201 and 908
areas in half, thereby dividing communities and forcing millions of
customers to change their telephone numbers. This method is called a
The alternative, known in telecommunications parlance as an
doesn't cut towns in half and doesn't force anybody to change his or
her telephone number. Bell Atlantic favors this plan.
Here's how an overlay would work in 201: before telephone numbers are
exhausted, a new area code would be created within the same geographic
boundaries as 201. When all 201 numbers have been taken, new numbers
would be issued with a new area code.
So all older phone numbers in North Jersey would begin with
follow with seven digits, while all newer numbers in the same area
would begin with a new area code, followed by a seven-digit number.
For example, a 201 caller might have a next-door neighbor who moved in
after all of the 201 telephone numbers were exhausted. The neighbor
would have a different area code from the 201 caller.
The same process would be repeated in Central Jersey, the 908 area.
As simple as the overlay sounds, it does come with one necessary dialing
change. Once an overlay has been introduced, callers in North
and Central Jersey will need to use the full 10 digit telephone number
(three-digit area code + seven-digit number) for all calls.
Thousands of New Jerseyans already dial 10 digits to make local calls.
A call between Elizabeth and Newark is a local call. But because
Elizabeth is in 908 and Newark is in 201, a caller from Newark must
dial 10 digits to reach Elizabeth.
Besides, statewide 11-digit dialing is inevitable even with a
geographic split because the demand for numbers will continue
after new area codes are added. The 908 area code was split from 201
in 1991 -- just five years ago. If new area codes created by
geographic splits are divided in half every five-to-ten years, it
won't take long before area-code zones are nearly as small as many
So after a series of splits, customers will be dialing 10 digits to
call from town to town, anyway. The only difference is, that
time another split is announced, thousands of businesses will have to
spend millions of dollars changing telephone numbers on stationery,
trucks, billboards, print ads, television ads, business cards,
automatic dialers and fax machines.
With an overlay, all of that inconvenience and unnecessary cost can be
QUESTIONS COMMONLY ASKED ABOUT THE
If I have one area code and I make a local call to
another area code,
will that call cost me more than it did before the addition of the
new area code?
Absolutely not. New area codes do not mean higher telephone rates.
Regardless of how many digits a customer dials, a local call
the addition of new area codes will remain a local call
Bell Atlantic computes its rates by measuring the distance between the
origin of the call and the place of completion. The number of area
codes a call passes through does not by itself determine the
price of the call.
How many towns would be broken in half by a
A geographic split would cut 21 towns in half.
Nine of them are in the 201 area: East Rutherford, Fair Lawn, Kearny,
Lodi, Ridgewood, Saddle Brook, Wallington, Wanaque and Woodbridge; and
12 are in the 908 area: Bernards, Bridgewater, Clark, Edison,
Franklin, Green Brook, Linden, Piscataway, Scotch Plains, South
Plainfield, Warren and Westfield.
And remember, that's just with the current geographic split. Towns in
multiples of 21 would be broken apart with each successive split.
(When 908 was split from 201 in 1991, 11 towns were cut in half.)
How many towns would be broken in half by an
Not one -- now or in the foreseeable future.
Why can't New Jersey do a geographic split without
Because telephone circuits frequently cross municipal lines and cannot
be reconstructed at anything approaching a reasonable cost. The
circuits are situated that way for two reasons:
- The first is that New Jersey's telephone system evolved with
population, not town boundaries in mind. That is, circuits were
constructed near population centers, and those centers did not
necessarily correspond to town boundaries.
- The second is that many circuits, while now constructed of modern
equipment, originally were laid down before some New Jersey towns were
How many telephone numbers are there in New
Theoretically, each area code generates 8 million numbers. But
because some number combinations can't be used -- numbers that begin
with 1 or 0, for example -- each area code actually has about 7.7
million useable numbers. So New Jersey has a total of 23.1 million
numbers. The 908 and 201 area codes together generate about
15.4 million telephone numbers.
When did New Jersey get its first area
The 201 area code was created in 1951. It was followed in 1963 by
609, and in 1991 by 908. When 908 was carved out of 201, the new
telephone numbers created in both area codes were projected to last
until 2005. Currently, they are expected to run out by 1997.
How quickly are telephone numbers being
In 1995, 1.9 million telephone numbers were assigned in New Jersey.
That's twice as many as were assigned in 1994.
Have any other states approved an overlay like the
Atlantic is proposing for New Jersey?
Yes, state regulators in Maryland have approved an overlay to address
number exhaust in the Baltimore area.
Where and when will New Jersey's area-code
hearings be held?
On Tuesday, April 23 at 10 a.m. at City Hall Council Chambers, 78
Bayard Street, New Brunswick, and on Wednesday, April 24 at 1 p.m. at
the Board of Public Utilities offices, Two Gateway Center, Newark.
Written comments can be submitted to the BPU as late as May 1. They
should be addressed to Mr. James A. Nappi, Secretary, New Jersey Board
of Public Utilities, Two Gateway Center, Newark, New Jersey 07101, Re:
Docket No. TO96020132.
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 communications
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.
- Tim Ireland, 201-649-2279