Local News

10-Digit Dialing Just Around the Corner

Posted January 14, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST

— Get your fingers walking. It will soon be necessary to dial 10 numbers every time you make a telephone call.

Dialing the area code before all calls -- even local calls -- is one way telephone companies hope to deal with a number shortage.

Population growth coupled with technology, like cell phones and computers, has depleted the number pool.

Charlotte is the first area in the state getting ready to implement 10-digit dialing. It looks like the Triangle may not be far behind.

BellSouth says customers will have plenty of time to prepare for the change before they see it in print.

"Changing their speed-dialing, their voice mail, anything that automatically dials seven digits, like when you pre-program your fax machine," says Kathy Hawkins of BellSouth.

Charlotte is the only other area in our state with more than one area code. It will be mandatory to dial 704 or 980 in addition to the seven-digit number starting next month.

Under the plan, new phone numbers would be assigned a new area codes.

The alternative to 10-digit dialing is reassigning old customers to a new area code, but phone companies say that would be costly and confusing.

The State Utilities Commission will hold public hearings on the issue Tuesday and Wednesday. The meetings will take place at 7 p.m. in room 2115 of the the Dobbs Building, 430 Salisbury Street in Raleigh.

The 10-digit system could be in place in the Triangle in about a year.