Local News

State Utilities Commission Adding Three New Area Codes to State

Posted August 22, 1997

— The State Utilities Commission approved a plan to add three new area codes to the state, effective next year. It's a decision that adds to the cost of doing business on the phone.

One of the first things Jimmy Sink did when he opened his new shop in downtown Wilson was to print business cards. Now he has to print a new batch with a different area code. Though he doesn't care for the added expense, he understands what lead to need for the change.

"All these fax machines, and computers and everything now have really been tying up some phone lines," said Sink.

Pagers, cell phones and extra phone lines have all created a demand which threatened to exhaust the capacity of phone companies, with just three area codes in the state.

"It's been exponential and it has outstripped everyone's expectations of what the rate of growth would be," said Jo Anne Sanford, State Utilities Commission.

The last area code change is only three years old. Now many of those customers will have to change again, to new codes to be announced in a couple of weeks. Utilities Commission members knew whatever decision they made would be unpopular.

"Nobody wants to change their phone number," "It is at best inconvenient and it is at worst expensive." said Sanford.

Sanford says it's not just a problem here, the same adjustments are occurring across the country. Though it is a sign of economic growth in businesses like Jimmy Sink's.

"We're really looking forward to going into the retail mail order end," said Sink. "We do a lot of garden accessories, we're looking at going on line."

That means Sink will be adding at least another phone line. He just hopes the new area code will last awhile.

"Yeah it would be kind of aggravating every two or three years to have to change your area code," said Sink.

The new area code numbers and the prefixes they'll effect will be announced in a couple of weeks. There will be a transition period during which you can call the old or new area code and be connected.

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