ASHE COUNTY-If you’ve heard the buzz about Skyline’s local phone system changing this month – it’s true.
A new regional “overlay” system means you’ll have to start dialing 10-digit phone numbers if you want to call someone from your landline phone. For most customers in Ashe and Alleghany Counties, that means you’ll have to dial 336 followed by the rest of the seven digit number to reach your local friends and family. Here’s what it means for you.
You won’t be forced to change your telephone number
With an overlay, existing Skyline customers don’t have to change their number in any way, according to Karen Powell, Skyline Telephone’s Public Relations Administrator, said. “The only thing really changing is the way they’ll have to dial to reach other people,” Powell said.
Why the change in procedure?
Mainly because of the need to make sure there is an adequate supply of available telephone numbers in the future. The North Carolina Utilities Commission ordered a 743 Area Code Overlay for the area currently assigned to the 336 area code. That means the two codes will be assigned to the same area, generally covering the Piedmont, but also Ashe and Alleghany Counties. And in the future, all local callers will have either a 336- or a 743- area code.
It just means you’ll have to dial more digits to make local calls
The use of the overlay code means customers must dial 10 digits (area code + seven digit local telephone number) to complete local calls within their area code calling area.
This also isn’t the first time local callers have experienced an area code change
Powell said Ashe County has experienced periodic area code changes in the past, most recently in 1997 when the 336 area code was created out of the 910 area code.
You’ve got a grace period
The 10-digit dialing change actually went into effect Oct. 24, 2015, Powell said, but you have until April 22, 2016 to get used to the system. That’s called the “permissive dialing period,” which is essentially a grace period to learn the new system. Beginning April 23, 2016, however, all local calls must be placed using the 10-digit telephone number.
What happens if you don’t dial all 10-digits?
During the grace period, essentially nothing, Powell said. But after the permissive dialing period ends in two weeks, customers who don’t use all 10-digits will hear an automated message letting them know they need to dial the area code to be connected.
Do I have to worry about extra charges?
Nope. Even though many customers are used to dialing the all 10-digits for long distance calls, Powell said, dialing the local area code – 336 or 743 when those phone numbers come online next year – won’t result in long distance charges.
And 911 will still work
You can still dial just three digits to reach 911, and if other informational services like 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 or 811 are currently available, you’ll still be able to dial those codes with just three digits as well.
Make sure your equipment works with 743
Powell said customers should check to make sure their make sure all their service, like automatic dialing equipment, applications and software recognize the new 743 area code as a valid choice. That means double checking to make sure things like life safety systems, alarm and security systems, gates and call forwarding settings still work after the switch over.
Do you have questions?
Visit SkyLine’s website at www.skyline.org or the North Carolina Utilities Commission’s website at www.ncuc.net or call 1-800-759-2226.
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058 or Twitter.com/AdamROrr