Customers of one of Iowa’s cellular companies must now dial ten digits ratherthan just seven to make a local call on their cell phone. As Radio Iowa’sO.Kay Henderson reports, Iowans may eventually be dialing ten digits onnearly every call, even on “land lines.”The 5-1-5 and 3-1-9 area codes are running out of numbers and by 2001, phonecustomers in the eastern two-thirds of Iowa will likely have to dial 515 and319 even if calling a local number. That’s because the fix phone companiesare seeking is called an “overlay.” New phone numbers WILL be issued in the515 and 319 areas — but with a new, three-digit prefix. That way, when youdial any number, you’ll have to use all ten digits. To many, that’s betterthan the alternative which forces some customers to change their currentnumbers to a new area. It’ll still be considered a local or in-area-codecall, according to Iowa Utilities Board spokesman Chuck Seal.Seal says it may not be that big a switch as many people aren’t even dialingseven digits these days.Two weeks ago, phone companies in the 5-1-5 area code petitioned for the”overlay” plan which doesn’t make some customers switch to a new area code. The utility board will conduct public hearings on the proposal this fall. In the 3-1-9 area code, the phone industry meeting to decide what torecommend is set for September.Starting this week, United States Cellular customers must now add the 515area code to locally-dialed calls. Seal says the 7-1-2 area code won’t runout of numbers for several years.
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