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February 15, 1996
NYNEX CONTACT: Media Relations,
NYNEX Reserves Two New Area Codes
617 number supply to be exhausted by 1998; 508 by 1999
BOSTON, MA -- Two new area codes (781 in 617 and 978 in 508) have
been reserved for Eastern Massachusetts to help keep pace with
the demand for telephone numbers for new phone lines, fax machines,
computers, pagers, cellular phones and other new services.
The new area codes could be introduced in 1998 when the 617 area
code is due to run out of numbers, and in 1999 as 508 nears depletion.
Fifteen new area codes were added nationwide in 1995, and at least
eight more are scheduled to debut this year, all part of the national
trend of growing demand for telecommunications services.
"The need for new area codes is really a positive indicator
of the economic vitality of the Commonwealth," said Tom DeSisto,
NYNEX regulatory affairs managing director. "We are not growing
in population, as are some areas which need new codes. We're growing
in how we use telecommunications to put our data and information-rich
resources to work for us."
Options for using the new area codes include the following: splitting
both 617 and 508, just as 617 was split to make 508 in 1988 overlaying
781 on top of 617, and 978 over 508, so that each existing area
code has a second code with precisely the same boundaries, just
as virtually every city and town today has several exchange codes
within its borders.
Each option has its pluses and minuses. A split of 617 and 508
would maintain area codes by distinct geography but would cause
considerable confusion and disruption, requiring customers to
change a total of 1.5 million phone numbers. It would be the most
costly option for customers, particularly businesses, requiring
them to change their printed materials and reprogram many automated
Overlaying new area codes on the precise boundaries of 617 and
508 would mean that no customers would have to change their phone
numbers. The new codes would co-exist with the current ones, sharing
the same boundaries much as several exchange codes -- the first
three digits of a phone number -- are used in a given city or
town. It would be the least costly option, causing the least disruption
With both the geographic split and overlay methods, more 11-digit
dialing will be required for some local calls. An overlay solution
would allow more customers to continue dialing seven digits for
calls within their local calling area. Under either plan, there
could be two different area codes in use in some communities.
NYNEX expects to recommend the overlay option as the choice which
is least disruptive to customers when a telecommunications industry
committee meets next month to consider all alternatives. Following
review and approval by the Department of Public Utilities, the
new area codes will be formally assigned by BellCORE's North American
Numbering Plan Administration.
DeSisto said that new area codes will not change telephone service
When 781 and 978 are introduced, Massachusetts will join seven
other states with five or more area codes -- Michigan (5), Pennsylvania
(5), Florida (6), Illinois (7), New York (9), Texas (10) and California
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