By Jesse Wood
People and businesses with an existing 336 area code, such as those in Ashe and Wilkes counties locally, will soon be required to dial 10-digit numbers even if dialing within that area code.
Because phone companies are running out of 336 area code numbers, the N.C. Utilities Commission approved a new overlay area code of 743 in the same geographical area as the 336 region, which includes such locales as Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, Kernersville, Burlington, North Wilkesboro, Roxboro and Asheboro, according to the commission.
Use of an overlay code requires 10-digit dialing.
In October, customers were allowed to place local calls utilizing all 10 digits “to help customers prepare for this change and ensure a smooth transition,” according to the commission. However on April 23, this option will end and phone users will be required to dial 10 digits for local calls or 11 digits for long-distance calls.
The palatable news in all of this – unless you own a printing shop that promotes business card and stationary services – is that your telephone number – including area code – will not change if your service remains the same. But you might have to update your local contacts in your cell phone.
However, beginning on May 23, customers in the 336 area code region “requesting new service, adding an additional line, or in some cases moving their service” might be reassigned numbers using either a 336 or 743 number.
According to the N.C. Utilities Commission, here are some facts about the new overlay area code:
- Your telephone number, including current area code, will not change, but may if you move your service.
- You will need to dial the area code + 7-digit local telephone number for all local calls.
- For billing purposes, what is a local call now will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed.
- You will continue to dial 1+ area code + 7-digit local telephone number for all long distance calls.
- The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay.
- You can still dial just three digits to reach 911.
- If 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 or 811 are currently available in your community, you will still dial these codes with just three digits.
Here are some other tips from the NCUC on “planning for the new area code” change:
- Customers should identify their telephone number as a ten digit number (area code + 7-digit local telephone number), and include the area code when giving the number to their friends, family, business associates and business customers, etc.
- Customers should ensure that all services, automatic dialing equipment, applications, software, or other types of equipment recognize the new 743 area code as a valid area code. Some examples are life safety systems, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, gates, speed dialers, mobile phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and similar functions.
- Be sure to check your business stationery, website, advertising materials, personal checks, and your personal or pet ID tags to ensure the area code is included in your telephone number.
- Remember that all local calls must be programmed using 10-digits and you need to add “1” for all long distance calls.
For more information, contact your provider via their website or customer service number or the N.C. Utility Commission at www.ncuc.net.