May 1 is
Ten-digit dialing is coming to Maryland May 1, and the phone
company reminds all people living or doing business in the state
that some changes are in order.
"Remember to change your speed dialers, your programmed fax, your computer's modem and any other device that automatically dials a number," said Bell Atlantic spokesperson Sandra Arnette. "Beginning May 1, those devices will not connect unless they include the area code when they are dialing."
Burglar alarm systems and fire detection systems that automatically call for help should also be changed to include an area code if they are programmed to dial a local number. The "911" emergency number will continue to work without first dialing an area code.
Local calls can be dialed with just the area code and number; long distance calls will continue to need a "1" prefix to the area code to let the phone company's equipment know the call is intended for out-of-area routing.
It is not necessary to wait until May 1 to make the necessary changes. Maryland customers can begin using the area code in all their telephone dialing immediately, according to Arnette. "The changes to the phone system itself have already been made. If customers dial the area code and number of a local call, it will go through as a local call."
The change to 10-digit dialing is not a rate increase. Local calls will continue to be billed at the same rate--which, for most phone users, means no additional charge to their basic monthly bill--and long distance rates are unaffected by the change.
"We have moved to 10-digit dialing because we're running out of phone numbers," Arnette said. "Rather than divide up the pie further, the public utilities commission decided to overlay new area codes on existing areas." Starting May 1, for instance, the area encompassing Baltimore, Annapolis and the Eastern Shore will hold both the 410 and the 443 area codes, while the rest of the state will contain the 301 and 240 codes.
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