PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Even the youngest telephone customers in southwestern Pennsylvania are getting ready for 10-digit dialing. In classrooms across the region, children are learning the new way of dialing phone calls using coloring books supplied by Verizon.
The fun-filled approach for youngsters is part of the company's public education campaign to inform area residents that the "Ten-number Number" change will occur on July 12.
That's when the area code will become a part of the telephone number for all Pennsylvanians in the current 412 and 724 area codes. This new way of dialing is necessary to accommodate the telecommunications industry's introduction of the region's newest area code - 878 - this August.
Working with local school authorities, Verizon has distributed nearly 85,000 interactive Phone Fun! coloring books to all kindergarten through fourth-grade classrooms in southwestern Pennsylvania to help children get ready for the Ten-number Number change.
Last year Verizon launched an aggressive public education campaign to encourage everyone to dial 10 digits - the area code and seven-digit phone number - for calls within and between the 412 and 724 area codes. Beginning July 12, callers in those two area codes who dial a seven-digit number will hear a recorded message instructing them to dial both the area code and telephone number.
The 878 area code will be introduced on August 17. Customers who request new service, an additional line or, in some cases, move their service to another address, may be assigned a number in the new area code. The 878 area code will serve the same geographic boundaries as the current 412 and 724 codes.
"Since a whole new way to dial local calls is coming to southwestern Pennsylvania, Verizon is making sure its customers - from the youngest to the oldest - are ready for the change," said Dorothy Bruzek, Verizon's manager for area code customer education in Pennsylvania.
Verizon developed the interactive coloring book as a teaching tool that explains the dialing change in a story format. The books were very successful in helping children adapt to a new dialing change when southeastern Pennsylvania moved to 10-digit dialing in 1999.
The coloring books will help kids build their own Ten-number Number personal phone directory so they can contact their parents and friends easily. Phone Fun! includes drawings and text that illustrate the dialing changes children need to make.
"Soon, you'll also have to dial the area code every time you make a call. That's why it's called the Ten-number Number," the book explains. "You'll also have to dial the Ten-number Number when you call your grandma across town. Or your mom or dad at work. So remember to use the Ten-number Number when you make all your calls. And don't forget to ask permission before you dial."
Verizon is encouraging parents and teachers to use the coloring book together with their children and students.
Verizon employees also are spreading the word about Ten-number Number dialing in meetings with civic and senior citizen organizations. The company will begin advertising shortly, and information on the dialing change and the new area code has appeared in inserts in customers' Verizon phone bills.
Flourishing competition for local phone service is driving the need for new area codes, as Pennsylvanians increasingly have a choice of which company provides their local phone service. And these competing companies require phone numbers for their customers. Currently, more than 100 Verizon competitors serve about 900,000 phone lines in the state. In addition, people are communicating more than ever using additional phone lines, cellular phones, pagers, computer modems and fax machines. All these communications vehicles require phone numbers.
This heavy demand for phone numbers is driving the need for new area codes throughout Pennsylvania and across the country. The 724 area code was created in western Pennsylvania in 1998 to meet that growing demand, but more numbers are needed.
Pennsylvanians can get more information on the new 878 area code and dialing changes by calling Verizon's toll-free Area Code Information Line at 1-800-500-2167, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. - or visit the company's Web site at www.verizon.com/support/areacode.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) 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 112 million access line equivalents and 27 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with approximately 260,000 employees and more than $65 billion in annual 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.