Northern Virginians Must Include Area Code When Dialing Local Calls Starting March 1

Northern Virginians Must Include Area Code When Dialing Local Calls Starting March 1

Dialing Change Necessary for Introduction of 571 Area Code

January 19, 2000

Media contact: Paul Miller, 804-772-1460 or 800-491-0190 (Va. only)

ARLINGTON, Va. - Beginning March 1, all telephone customers in Northern Virginia's 703 area code must dial 10 digits to place their local phone calls. After that date, those who forget and dial a seven-digit number will hear a recorded message instructing them to dial both the area code and telephone number.

"This change marks the last step in helping customers prepare for the new dialing patterns that will result from the introduction of a new 571 area code in April," said Robert Woltz, acting president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - Virginia.

The 571 code will serve the same geographic area as the current 703 area code -- Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William and eastern Loudoun counties, as well as the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax.

Existing phone numbers in the 703 area code will not change. Beginning in April, the industry will assign numbers with the new 571 area code in addition to the current 703 code, as available.

When multiple area codes serve the same geography, it is necessary for callers to dial the area code and seven-digit phone number - or "Ten-number Numbersm" - when they make any calls within or between the two area codes. Callers do not need to include a "1" when dialing these local calls.

The local telephone companies launched Ten-number Number dialing in Northern Virginia last June to give customers time to acquaint themselves with the change. This introductory period provided nine months for customers to re-program their automatic speed dialers on telephones, facsimile machines, alarm circuits and Internet access numbers for their computers. During this period, which will end Feb. 29, local calls were completed regardless of whether the caller dialed 10 or seven digits.

"By now, we hope many of our customers have already prepared for 10-digit local dialing," Woltz said. He noted that Northern Virginians have been dialing 10 digits for years when placing local calls to nearby Washington, D.C., and the Maryland suburbs.

The additional area code and move to Ten-number Number dialing in Northern Virginia will not affect dialing 911, 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. Bell Atlantic customers can get more information on their local calling areas by checking the customer guide section in the front of the white pages directory.

Demand for new telephone numbers is exploding as Virginians increasingly have a choice of which company provides their local phone service, and these competing companies require phone numbers for their customers. In addition, people are communicating more than ever using additional phone lines, cellular phones, pagers, computer modems and fax machines, all of which, of course, require phone numbers.

This heavy demand for phone numbers is driving the need for new area codes in Virginia and across the country. In fact, the new 571 area code will be Virginia's third new area code in less than five years. In 1996, the 540 area code was carved out of the 703 area code to serve the western part of the state. A year later the industry split the 804 area code, adopting 757 for eastern Virginia.

And, because of the continued high demand for telecommunications services, more area codes in Virginia are on the drawing board. Plans are currently underway for three additional codes to be introduced over the next two years in the 757, 804 and 540 areas.

Virginians can get more information on the area codes and dialing changes by calling Bell Atlantic's toll-free Area Code Information Line (800-672- 2628) or by visiting the company's area code site on the World Wide Web at bellatlantic.com/areacode.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With more than 43 million telephone access lines and more than 10 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 23 countries.

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