By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — Get ready to press more buttons and remember new numbers: 10-digit dialing for 570 area code numbers and a new area code are coming to the Valley, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has announced.
Ten-digit dialing means a caller must dial the area code to reach another 570 number, said PUC spokeswoman Denise McCracken.
It’s called an overlay plan, and PUC approved it in July 2010 to accommodate more phone numbers in the region, McCracken said. Once existing 570 area code numbers are exhausted, new telephone numbers will be assigned under a 272 area code.
“Few people have just one phone number anymore,” she said, between cell phones, work and home phones and fax lines. That squeezed the number of 570 area code numbers left and led to “area code relief.”
In these cases, the PUC looks at two options: the overlay or a geographic split.
“Depending on each region, we look to see which is the better option with the least effect on consumers,” McCracken said.
Reader reaction Wednesday to the news on The Daily Item’s Facebook page was swift. Lori Bogart Maurer, who didn’t list her location, suggested giving cell phones the 272 area code and leaving residential and business 570 numbers alone.
Jonathon Cataldi, of Shamokin Dam, said with today’s technology, he doesn’t understand how utility companies couldn’t circumvent the need to dial 10 digits for local calls.
“Seriously, you don’t have to now, so why not just make it that when you are in the 570 area code or the 272 area code, you will not need to dial the area code prefix first?” he asked.
Cataldi added, however, that he is glad 570 is not just going away. “Being a small-business owner, that would mean every form of advertising with my phone number, that I have spent money on, I would have to pay all over again for more.”
The change is official Oct. 31, but right now, the region is in a “permissive dialing period,” about six months of adjustment time for residential and business customers to get into the habit of dialing 570.
That’s good news to Holly Kyle, director of the Union-Snyder Area Agency on Aging, where plans will start to get senior citizens ready for the change.
“Because there is this window, we’ll provide as much public relations and spreading the word as possible,” Kyle said, mentioning the agency’s website, monthly newsletter and other avenues.
“Overlays” are common in urban areas, and other regions in Pennsylvania have such plans as well, McCracken said.
To get into the habit, consumers are advised to give their telephone number as 10 digits, meaning the area code plus the seven-digit number. They also should begin dialing 570 before calling a local number.
For information, consumers should contact their telephone service providers or the PUC at (800) 692-7380.