Verizon Suggests New Year's Resolutions for Massachusetts Customers Getting Four New Area Codes

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BOSTON -- Verizon suggests some New Year's resolutions for consumers and businesses in Eastern Massachusetts who are getting four new area codes this spring.

  • Get in the habit of dialing 10 digits or "1" plus 10 digits for all local calls.
  • Reprogram computers that are used for Internet access, fax machines, speed dialing and call forwarding services and other equipment that dials phone numbers by April 2. (EDITORS: A list of some equipment and services that may require reprogramming follows this release.)
  • 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.

These New Year's reminders are part of Verizon's campaign to inform residents and businesses in Eastern Massachusetts about the four new area codes and how that will affect the dialing of local phone calls.

The new area codes will have the same geographic boundaries as the current 617, 508, 781 and 978 area codes. These "overlay" area codes eliminate the need to split the existing codes into ever-smaller areas to create new phone numbers and allow existing customers to keep their current 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. If they prefer, customers may complete all calls -- local, toll and long distance - by dialing "1" plus 10 digits.

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.

"Customers in Eastern Massachusetts should get familiar with the new dialing method and reprogram their equipment now so both are ready before April 2," said Rick Colon, manager for area-code customer education. "A few minutes of preparation now will ensure that their calls go through once the dialing change occurs."

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 is 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.

"Through our extensive educational campaign, we're doing all we can help our customers get ready for the new area codes and dialing changes," said Colon.

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