You must dial area code starting this weekend

April 18, 2012 2:16:41 PM PDT
Starting Saturday, phone users in the Triangle will have to dial the area code plus the seven-digit number they're trying to reach - even for local calls.

The change affects everyone who currently has a 919 area code on their phone number.

Dialing ten digits for every number is a byproduct of the Triangle's explosive growth over the past two decades. Regulators are simply running out of local phone numbers and must add a second area code to handle the expansion.

The state utilities commission will begin assigning a new "984" area code at the end of April. The 984 area code will cover the same geographical area as the 919 area code. Existing telephone numbers in the 919 area code will remain the same.

Local calls - that is those in the 919/984 area - do not require the "1" plus 10 digits. If you dial "1" plus the 10 digits when placing a local call, you will hear a recording advising that a "1" is not needed and to hang up and redial.

Dialing three digit numbers such as 211, 511, 711, 811, and 911 will remain the same and will not be impacted by the new 10-digit dialing requirement. Long Distance calls will continue to be dialed with 1+10 digits.

What do I need to do?

The change could mean automatic dialing equipment, or other types of equipment programmed with a seven-digit number must be reprogrammed to use the new dialing procedure.

Some examples are PBX, life safety systems, fax machines, internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, gates, speed dialers, call-forwarding settings, voicemail services, and similar functions.

For more information on the change to 10-digit dialing, contact the North Carolina Utilities Commission at (866) 380-9816.

Emergency calls

Emergency services workers have said they're concerned the area code switch could lead to more accidental calls to 911 centers as people try to punch in 919 and accidentally hit the 1 twice. They're asking people to dial carefully.

"Currently, the 911 center experiences thousands of misdialed calls every year," said Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center Director Barry Furey. "These calls take time to process and delay the staff from dealing with actual emergencies."

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