APRIL 21, 1997

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Area code 206 splits, 10-digit dialing on the way

new area codes

new area codes If you're not juggling enough numbers in your life, here are a few more to add. Beginning April 27, two new area codes, 425 and 253, go into effect in the 206 area. Ten-digit dialing will also become necessary for local calls placed between 206, 360, 425, and 253 area codes.
   The communications industry of western Washington recently announced that residents and businesses in the 206 area code have been split into three telephone prefixes. While Seattle remains 206, the north end of the present 206 area code switches to 425 and the south end becomes 253.
   "Essentially the increase in population in the Puget Sound area and the increase in telecommunications devices" facilitated the need for new area codes, said Melissa Barran, GTE public relations manager. She cited the growth in pagers, faxes, cellular phones, second lines, and computer modems as leading to the decision.
   The new area code structure was determined by customer input and the communications industry, Barran said. It has been designed to provide the longest possible relief possible before other new calling patterns may be required.
   "The estimates at this point in time are eight to 10 years," before new codes would be necessary, she said. She added that the potential for new communications technologies could change the way we dial in the future.
   The 425 area code will include Everett, Mukilteo, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Bothell, Woodinville, Duvall, Carnation, Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Issaquah, Fall City, Maple Valley, and out to Snoqualmie Pass.
   The 253 area code will include Kent, Tacoma, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, the Key Peninsula and south to Roy. Seattle, from Shoreline to Sea-Tac, and including Bainbridge, Vashon, and Mercer Islands, remains 206.
   Citizens and businesses will have a seven-month grace period in which they can use either 206 or their new area code. The transition ends Nov. 15. Users of cellular telephones and other wireless communication devices assigned a new code must have equipment reprogrammed by their service provider before Nov. 16.
   Barran said there is also another change in the works: 10-digit dialing. "When the new area codes go into effect, customers who make local calls across boundaries have to dial the area code and regular numbers," said Barran.
   Ten-digit dialing, punching the area code plus the regular telephone number (for example, a call into Seattle, 206-###-####) will be required for local calling between area codes. A "1" will still be necessary for long distance calling within area codes and between area codes.
   "If you call from Woodinville to Seattle, you have to dial the area code, without the "1," to complete that call," said Barran. "When customers make a local call between area codes, they'll have to dial the area code plus the regular number in order to complete that call. In other words, you will not dial a '1' because today you don't dial a '1' to (for example) Seattle."
   Local calling areas and rate areas will not change. If your call was a local call before the addition of the new area codes, it will remain a local call. "What's local today is local tomorrow. What's long distance today is long distance tomorrow," Barran said. Local calls in the same area code require only the normal seven-digit telephone number.
   Area codes 360 and 509 remain the same. "People presently in the 360 area are not affected by this change. But there are some customers within the 360 who need to dial 10 digits to dial into new area codes," said Barran.
   For more information, call 1-888-977-7548.