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Archive for Sunday, September 20, 1998

KNOW THE CODE

September 20, 1998

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The 14-month transitional dialing period that's about to end was designed to help phone users become accustomed to a new area code.

The end is near.

The end of so-called permissive dialing, that is.

But a new era is dawning, in which Kansas will have three area codes instead of two.

At the end of this month, callers who try to reach much of northern Kansas using the old 913 area code will not get through.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. Oct. 1, phone company computers will quit automatically switching calls to the new 785 area code as they have for the past 14 months, Southwestern Bell said. The new code covers most of northern Kansas.

``Callers who mistakenly dial the wrong area code,'' said spokeswoman Virginia Popper, ``will hear a recorded message that explains the number they dialed is in the 785 area code. The message then will ask the caller to hang up and dial again.''

The 14-month transitional dialing period that's about to end was designed to help phone users become accustomed to the new area code, which covers a large area in the northern half of the state. The 913 area code now covers only the extreme northeast part of of the state, in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area.

Lawrence will no longer be accessible to callers dialing 913, but Tonganoxie, DeSoto, Gardner and Paola will be.

After the cut-off date, Kansas will have three area codes: 316 for the southern half of the state, 785 for most of the northern half and 913 for metropolitan Kansas City.

The reason for the change was simple. There just weren't enough number combinations available in the 913 area code to go around anymore. Besides a growing population, technology played a role in eating up phone numbers as more fax machines, pagers, computers and cell phones have gone into use.

Southwestern Bell, which provides local phone service in Lawrence, is recommending individual customers and businesses make sure that contacts are aware of the change, reprogram telephone equipment and change printed materials and advertising.

The company said business customers should contact their equipment vendors to ensure their phone systems have been programmed to recognize the new area codes. And customers with speed dial and auto dial features on telephones, fax machines, cell phones and computers also are reminded to get them reprogrammed before Oct. 1.

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