FRANKFORT, Ky. (7/30/13) – Telephone customers in western Kentucky soon can begin preparing for the changes that will come early next year when area code 364 is added to the same geographic area as the current area code 270.
Saturday, Aug. 3, marks the start of a six-month “permissive dialing” period during which customers will be able to dial either seven or 10 digits when making local calls in area code 270. Mandatory 10-digit-dialing of local calls begins Feb. 1, 2014.
“The permissive dialing period is intended to allow customers to become accustomed to the new dialing patterns,” Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman David Armstrong said. “They have six months to get used to dialing the area code on all calls and to reprogram phones and other equipment that uses automatic dialing.”
The permissive dialing period allows telecommunication providers to prepare and test equipment in advance of the establishment of the new area code.
An informational video about the permissive dialing period is available on the PSC YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/KYPSC.
Area code 364 was created in December 2012 when the PSC decided that the best way to meet the need for more telephone numbers in area code 270 was through the creation of an overlay, which superimposes a new area code over an existing area code.
The overlay option is the least disruptive for all customers and imposes the smallest cost on businesses in the area, the PSC said in its order creating area code 364. This is the first area code in Kentucky created by an overlay.
“An overlay allows everyone who now has an area code 270 phone number to keep that number,” Armstrong said. “The only change is the 10-digit dialing for local calls.”
During the permissive dialing period, all current dialing patterns will remain in place. However, customers who wish to switch to the new dialing patterns may do so. Calls will be connected either way.
Beginning Aug. 3, local calls within area code 270 (as well as local calls to numbers outside area code 270) may be dialed using either 7 or 10 digits – that is, with or without the area code. Dialing 1 for local calls will not be necessary under any circumstance. Local calls will not become long-distance calls.
“One of the critical tasks during the permissive dialing period falls on anyone who uses telephones for critical functions involving health or safety,” Armstrong said.
Emergency response agencies or others who use reverse 911 or other outbound dialing systems should use the time for preparation and testing. Phone-based security systems and medical alert systems also need to be prepared and tested well in advance of the mandatory date so that any problems can be detected and addressed.
In its December order, the PSC noted that public comments received in the case overwhelmingly favored an overlay. The other option was to split area code 270 and designate a portion as area code 364, with both landline and wireless customers in the affected portion required to change their area code as a result.
The PSC noted that area code overlays have become the preferred method for creating new area codes nationwide. Overlays pose the fewest technical issues for implementation by an increasing complex telecommunication industry, the PSC said.
The first numbers using area code 364 may be assigned beginning March 3, 2014. Area code 270 numbers can be assigned after that date, but their availability will depend on how many remain in the inventory of each individual service provider.
Service providers in area code 270 are required by the PSC to educate their customers about the changes resulting from the new area code.
All records in the area code case are available on the PSC website, psc.ky.gov. The case number is 2012-00129.
The PSC is an independent agency attached for administrative purposes to the Energy and Environment Cabinet. It regulates more than 1,500 gas, water, sewer, electric and telecommunication utilities operating in Kentucky and has approximately 90 employees.
Information provided by Andrew MeInykovych
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