Beginning Saturday, calling someone across town will require the use of an area code, even on home phones that have always used just seven digits.
Cell phones already use area codes, but home and office lines have been exempt — until now.
Dialing 336 will be required due to a new 743 area code being implemented in this region.
“The 743 area code is being added to the area to ensure a continuing supply of phone numbers,” explained Melanie Senter, marketing manager for Surry Telephone Membership Corp.
The area code requirement begins this weekend, said Senter. Then starting May 23, customers getting new phone lines may find themselves in the new 743 area code, which overlaps the present 336 area code
“Surry Telephone will not assign the new area code of 743 until we have depleted all numbers using the 336 area code,” Senter said.
Not only will long-distance calls require the 10-digit dialing, but local calls will as well, according to a press release provided by the North Carolina Utilities Commission. Those 10 digits are the area code plus the seven-digit local telephone number of either a land line or a cell phone.
The change in area code was first announced last year, and local residents have been able to use the 10-digit dialing for several months. Starting Saturday it will become mandatory.
The Charlotte area and the Raleigh/Durham area of the state already are using 10-digit dialing and have two area codes overlayed in their calling regions. The northern Piedmont and northern mountain counties served by 336 and 743 will be the third region of the state to utilize a second area code.
According to the commission, customers need to remember to provide all 10 digits when providing their phone number to others.
“Customers will need to 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,” the organization said in a written statement. “Some examples are life safety systems, fax machines, internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, gates, speed dialers, mobile phone contact lists, call forward settings, voice mail services and similar functions.”
Another reminder from the commission is to be sure all material is updated to include the area code, including business stationary, website, advertising materials, personal checks, and personal or pet ID tags.
“Remember that all local calls must be programmed using 10 digits and you still need to add 1 for all long-distance calls,” the statement said..
While the addition will mean dialing more digits when making a call, Surry Telephone personnel said several things will remain the same.
Existing telephone numbers, including area codes, will not change. In addition, the price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay. A call which was local prior to adding the 743 area code will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits required for dialing.
Also, 911 will remain a three-digit call, and if other numbers such as 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711, or 811 are used in a community, they will remain a three-digit call as well.
For those who forget to dial the 10 digits when making a call, the call will not be completed and a recording will prompt the caller to hang up and dial again using all 10 digits.
For more information, visit a service provider’s website or the NCUC website at www.ncuc.net.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.