NEW YORK - Residents and businesses in the mid-Hudson and Catskill areas soon will see the 845 area code on their monthly Bell Atlantic telephone bills.
As part of the transition from the current 914 code to the new 845 area code, the company is converting its databases to display the new area code on customer records. The software changes are being done in late July in preparation for the changeover to the 845 area code, which will occur Dec. 9.
In addition to the use of the 845 code on bills, customers may notice the new area code when they use the following company services:
- Bell Atlantic directory assistance operators will be giving out the new area code to customers requesting a telephone number in the mid-Hudson and Catskill areas;
- The 845 code now will be used for special recorded announcements that inform customers when someone has moved or terminated their telephone service;
- The new area code will begin to be displayed as part of telephone numbers on Caller ID devices.
"These changes are all part of the transition period that began in early June," said William Floyd, Verizon director for Community Affairs and Customer Outreach in New York.
Verizon Communications is the national telecommunications company formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE.
"While individuals and businesses have been making changes to their communications equipment to accommodate the new area code, Bell Atlantic also has been making necessary upgrades in the services we provide to customers. Customers will begin to see these changes shortly and will gradually see more of them introduced until the 845 area code replaces 914 in the affected areas in December," Floyd said.
Last November, the New York State Public Service Commission decided to split the existing 914 area code to create millions of new local numbers to meet growing consumer telecommunications needs.
As a result, Westchester County residents and businesses will keep the 914 code. Residents and businesses in the mid-Hudson and Catskill areas currently served by 914 (Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange and Ulster counties and parts of Sullivan, Delaware, Greene and Columbia counties) will have phone numbers with the new area code.
NeuStar, the administrator of the North American Numbering Plan, selected 845 as the new area code for the mid-Hudson and Catskill region.
Since June 5, calls can be placed to mid-Hudson and Catskill numbers using either the 914 or 845 codes. When this transition period ends Dec. 9, calls to those areas must include the 845 area code to be completed.
Customers within the 845 area will continue to dial seven digits to reach another resident or business within the 845 area. Similarly, calls from a customer with a 914 number to another customer with a 914 number will be dialed with seven digits.
To place a call between the two area codes, customers will dial "1" plus the area code and the standard seven-digit number, just as they do when calling a number in another area code across the country.
Creation of the new area code will not affect rates or local calling. Local calls will still be local calls, even though some customers may have to dial a "1" and the area code to complete the call. Charges for calls to 411 (directory assistance service) will remain the same, and the new area code will have no effect on calls to 911 emergency services.
Those who are near the area code boundary are the most likely to make calls using "1 plus the area code" for local calling. Customers near the Putnam/Westchester border will be assigned to either the 845 or 914 area code, depending on which county they live in.
Customers should review their telephone bill to verify which area code they are assigned.
Bell Atlantic is continuing a customer education program to inform residents and businesses throughout Westchester and the mid-Hudson and Catskill areas of the changes.
Customers are urged to reprogram their telecommunications equipment and services now to handle the new area code. This includes computer modems; fax machines; speed dialing, call forwarding and voice dialing features, as well as other communications equipment.
The company is providing a 24-hour, toll-free recorded information line (1-800-322-3558 in English; 1-800-882-7818 in Spanish, and 1-800-299-2630 for TTY users); meeting with community groups and providing information for community newsletters. Much of the communications will be multi-lingual and accessible by TTY for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
In addition, the company's Web site, www.bellatlantic.com/areacode, has a full description of area code changes throughout the company's service area.
The demand for new telephone numbers has exploded since Bell Atlantic opened its telephone markets across New York. Dozens of other communications companies now offer 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.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 95 million access lines and 25 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.
ON THE INTERNET: Verizon news releases, executive speeches and biographies, news media contacts and other information are available at Verizon's News Center on the World Wide Web (www.verizon.com/news). To receive news releases by email, visit the News Center and register for personalized automatic delivery of Verizon news releases.