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Changes being made for 256 area code customers

Telephone users will soon have a few extra steps to make when placing a call.

Customers currently in the 256 area code will soon begin dialing the area code plus the seven digit number when making a call.

The new dialing procedure will become mandatory for all residential and business customers on June 5.

The Alabama Public Service Commission ordered the 938 area code be added to the 256 region to ensure that businesses and consumers have access to numbers from their carrier of choice. An area code overlay is the addition of another area code to the same geographic region served by an existing area code.

The most important facts that consumers and businesses need to know about the area code overlay are:

• All customers with a 256 area code phone number today will keep the 256 area code for that number.

• Phone numbers with the new 938 area code may be issued after July 10.

• All customers in the 256 area code should begin learning new dialing habits when calling from the 256 area code. Everyone should dial the three-digit area code and seven-digit number when making calls. If the call is a toll call, the number 1 must be dialed in addition to the 10-digit number, just as it is today.

• Beginning June 5, customers must use the new 10-digit dialing procedure for all calls. After this date, if they do not use the new dialing procedure, the call will not be completed and a recording will instruct callers to hang up and dial again.

• Dialing the 256 area code when dialing local calls, or dialing a number in your local area with the new 938 area code, does not increase the cost of your calls — calls that are in a consumer’s toll-free calling area continue to remain toll-free.

• Customers can still dial three digits to reach 911, 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 and 811.

In addition to changing the dialing procedure, customers are encouraged to begin reprogramming their automatic dialing equipment and all other types of equipment that are currently programmed with only seven digits on a 256 area code phone number. All such devices will need to be reprogrammed with the new dialing procedure prior to June 5.

Examples of programmed equipment and features include: PBX systems, life safety systems, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, gates, speed dialers, call-forward settings, voice mail services and similar functions.