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The Daily Tar Heel

10-Digit Local Calls Aim to Ease Growth

Ten-digit dialing is slated to be implemented in February as a result of growth issues within the 919 area code.

Although UNC students will have to dial 10 digits to call telephone numbers off campus, telecommunication official Brent Sutton said the change will not affect the University's five-digit dialing system.

The extended dialing system is slated to go into effect Feb. 6, 2002. One month later, a new 984 area code will be added.

"(Residents) can continue to dial seven digits up to the point we actually run out of numbers in the 919 area code," said Hugh Gerringer, a telephone engineer on the Public Staff of the N.C. Utilities Commission.

Since August, the commission has been giving town residents the option of dialing either seven or 10 digits to make local calls within the 919 area code to facilitate the transition into 10-digit dialing.

Gerringer said the 10-digit dialing system will become a requirement on Feb. 6, 2002 -- one month before the new area code is put in place -- to give residents ample time to adjust.

He also said the commission is implementing efforts to conserve telephone numbers within the 919 area code, which might delay the Feb. 6 start date.

One conservation measure being utilized will place limits on business requests for specific telephone numbers.

The commission also is enacting a new policy that will recirculate business numbers that have not been used for six months.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it's another year (before 10-digit dialing becomes required)," Gerringer said.

He also said phone numbers already located within the 919 area code will not change, even though the new 984 area code overlaps the 919 region.

"Many people think local calls become long distance calls, but this is not the case," Gerringer said.

But he said dialing a one or a zero before making a call could result in long distance charges, depending on the service provider.

According to a statement on the BellSouth Web site, residents should reprogram all stored local telephone numbers to include the appropriate area code.

Items with automatic dialing features, such as cell phones, fax machines and modems, also should be reprogrammed.

BellSouth also is encouraging residents who have alarm systems to contact their vendor to determine reprogramming needs.

Gerringer said 10-digit dialing might not be popular with customers but feels it is necessary for the long-term growth of the community.

"Eventually, we will run out of numbers in the 919 area code."

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