Thursday, March 10, 2005

Dialing pattern change coming for part of state

When it comes to communicating, the Davis family of Madison is typical of many modern households. The family has one telephone land line, two cellular telephones; two computers with high-speed broadband (daughter Shelby’s has a wireless router), and one fax machine, so husband Mike and Kris can work from home.  

After reading about the new 769 overlay area code, Kris Davis began checking the family’s communications equipment – making sure that any speed dial numbers, phonebook/directory lists, and modem connections had the current area code programmed.  

Davis admits she wasn’t too excited about updating all the family’s equipment, much less adjusting to 10-digit dialing.

“At first I was a little annoyed, but this is one of those changes a person has to get used to in order to accommodate technology. We’ll just have to train ourselves to dial ten digits instead of seven.”

The change in dialing patterns is due to the March 14 implementation of the 769 overlay area code in central Mississippi.

“This is an industry wide change,” noted Mike Walker, BellSouth director of external affairs. “BellSouth customers, as well as those of all other communications providers are affected, so every communications user within the current 601 area code will now have to dial ten digits.”

While 769 will be an overlay area code, which is new to Mississippi, overlay area codes have been used in many other states.

“An overlay area code is just what it sounds like – it overlays, or sits on top of, an existing area code,” said Walker. “The appeal of an overlay area code is that customers who currently have 601 area code telephone numbers will not have to change their number to accommodate the 769 area code. Communications users simply have to become accustomed to dialing ten digits to complete a local call.”   

Walker added that beginning March 14, if BellSouth customers in central Mississippi try to complete a call using only seven digits, they’ll receive an intercept message that directs the user to dial 10 digits.

“I know I’ll forget and only dial seven digits,” said Kris Davis.  “However, I’m sure I’ll learn rather quickly once I reach a recording telling me to re-dial with ten digits.”  

Cullam Pope owns two small businesses in Jackson, Paint It My Way, a do-it-yourself ceramics store off County Line Road, and Article, a contemporary home furnishings store located in the Fondren area.  

“Most of our communications equipment is already programmed with the area code,” said Pope. “Since our area code isn’t changing we didn’t incur any costs to print new stationery or business cards.  And our listings in the Yellow Pages already have the 601 area code.”

Walker added that BellSouth The Real Yellow Pages began printing the area code in its directories in 2004.  

Numbers using the 769 area code will be issued when all possible numbers within the 601 area code are exhausted.  Special services that use three-digit numbers (911 and 411) as well as 1 + ten-digit long distance calling will remain unchanged.

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