BOSTON -- Verizon reminds consumers and businesses in Eastern Massachusetts they must prepare their computers for a new way of dialing Internet connections.
"Customers in Eastern Massachusetts should reprogram their computers and other equipment now to use the new dialing method," said Rick Colon, Verizon manager for area-code customer education. "A few minutes of preparation today will ensure that their calls go through once the dialing change occurs."
Starting April 2, Eastern Massachusetts will have four additional area codes with the same geographic boundaries as the current 617, 508, 781 and 978 area codes. These "overlay" area codes will eliminate the need to split the existing codes into ever-smaller areas to create new phone numbers and will allow existing customers to keep their current phone numbers.
The new area codes will coincide with existing area codes as follows:
- 857 will overlay 617
- 774 will overlay 508
- 339 will overlay 781
- 351 will overlay 978
While telephone numbers in the existing area codes will not change, callers in Eastern Massachusetts will need to dial 10 digits -- the area code and seven-digit number -- for all local calls and "1" plus 10 digits for all toll calls starting April 2. If they prefer, customers may complete all calls -- local, toll and long distance -- by dialing "1" plus 10 digits.
Customers with personal computers currently using a seven-digit local number to access their Internet service provider or corporate network should reprogram their dialing software to use the area code first. Customers who dial incorrectly will hear a recorded message reminding them that they must also dial the complete number, which includes the area code.
This change affects Eastern Massachusetts customers only. Customers in the 413 area code in Western Massachusetts will continue to dial all their calls as they do today.
Beginning May 2, local telephone companies may assign numbers in the new 857, 774, 339 and 351 area codes to customers who request new phone service or additional lines.
The demand for new telephone numbers is exploding as Massachusetts residents and businesses increasingly have a choice of which company provides their local phone service. These competing companies require phone numbers for their customers.
Just three years ago, two new area codes were created in Massachusetts by splitting existing area codes in half. The 781 area code was carved out of the 617 code and the 978 area code was carved out of the 508 area code. With the addition of the four new overlay codes in 2001, Massachusetts will have nine area codes.
Nationwide, the number of new area codes also is increasing as a result of the heavy demand for additional phone numbers.
The additional area codes and new dialing pattern will not affect current telephone numbers, the price of telephone service or local calling areas. In addition, customers will still dial 911 to reach emergency services.
Verizon has been informing its customers about the dialing change and new area codes through letters to businesses, inserts in phone bills, advertising, outreach to senior citizens and others, and special activities.
"We're doing all we can help our customers get ready for the new area codes and dialing changes," said Colon.
As part of that customer education, Colon offered the following tips:
- Get in the habit of dialing 10 digits or "1" plus 10 digits for all local calls.
- Reprogram computers, fax machines, speed dialing and call forwarding services and other equipment that dials phone numbers before April 2.
- Check with your security company or the supplier of your PBX business phone system to make sure your systems are programmed to handle the new area codes.
- Update phone lists, databases, Web pages, billing records and address books with the new area codes.
- Include the area code when giving out your phone number.
More information on the area codes and dialing changes is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by calling Verizon's toll-free Area Code Information Line at 877-554-3685. Customers also may visit the company's area code pages on the World Wide Web at www.verizon.com/support/areacode.html.
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 nearly 109 million access line equivalents and more than 27.5 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the world's largest provider of print and online directory information. A Fortune 10 company with approximately 260,000 employees and more than $63 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.
Customers with phone numbers in the 617 / 508 / 781 / 978 area codes need to reprogram any telephone equipment, computer or service that currently dials seven-digit phone numbers. The change is necessary for the introduction of new area codes in Eastern Massachusetts this spring. Customers should reprogram that equipment or service as soon as possible so that it dials ten digits or "1" plus ten digits for all seven-digit numbers they dial today. This reprogramming must be completed by April 2.
Examples of equipment or Verizon services that may need to be reprogrammed include:
- Computers used for Internet access
- Speed dialing lists
- Automatic dialers
- Cellular and mobile phones
- Security systems (check with your security company)
- PBX business phone systems (check with your PBX supplier)
- Fax machines
- Home Voice Mail or Answer Call/Voice Mail features
- Call Forwarding
In addition, be sure to update phone lists, databases, Web pages, billing records and address books to include area codes and include the area code when exchanging telephone numbers.
For more information on Massachusetts area codes or how to dial calls, call Verizon's toll-free Area Code Information Line on 877-554-3685. Customers also may visit the company's area code pages on the World Wide Web (www.verizon.com/support/areacode.html).