by Rachel Hunter
The Gouverneur Tribune Press will begin publishing 10-digit phone numbers in the newspaper, effective February 3, 2017, to help aid in the dialing transition.
New York State regulators announced that 315 had been projected to become "exhausted" in the third quarter of 2010. The New York State Public Service Commission at the time weighed two options: an overlay area code, or a split into two codes. A split would have included a north-south arrangement, splitting Oswego County and the north from 315, or an east-west split, with Oswego and Onondaga forming the boundary. Regulators met to discuss a second code in the 315 region; because of economic conditions, assignable numbers did not run out in the third quarter of 2010 as predicted.
In March 2017, telephone companies will start giving out phone numbers in area code 680, which will cover the same 18-county region as 315.
For most of us, that means one big change:
Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Feb. 11, 2017, we will have to dial an area code for every phone call we make, even local calls within area code 315. Even calls to your spouse or your next-door neighbor. If you don't dial the full 10-digit number, including area code, you'll get a recording telling you to hang up and try again.
For now, you can get away with dialing either seven digits or 10 for local calls. But it's time to start thinking about what you have to do to prepare.
Yes, it's for real this time.
Plans for a second area code have been debated, and vigorously opposed, for 18 years. State senators and other public officials lobbied hard to prevent a second area code, arguing that it would be a big hassle. But the state Public Service Commission finally pulled the trigger on a new area code last year, concluding that it can't be put off again. Area code 680 is definitely coming.
Here are the key dates to remember:
Feb. 11, 2017: Mandatory 10-digit dialing begins. All local calls must be dialed with 10 digits (area code plus seven-digit number) as of this date. If you dial a local call with just seven digits, you will not get through.
March 11, 2017: This is the earliest date for phone numbers in area code 680 to go into service. The new area code will be assigned to new phone numbers. Nobody with an existing 315 number will have to switch area codes.
You can still call 911. You'll still dial just 911 to reach emergency responders. The same goes for other N11 services such as 411, 211, 511 and 811.
Calling rates won't change. Nothing about your phone bill should change as a result of the additional area code. You will continue to pay the same rates for the same kinds of calls.
Some calls will require 11 digits. Most mobile phones and digital landline phones will complete calls if you dial just 10 digits. But on traditional landline phones, you will have to dial 1 plus the 10-digit number to call outside of your own area code.
Start updating your contact list now. Chances are, you have a contact list in your phone that allows you to simply tap a name rather than dial that person's number. If you entered your Central New York contacts without the area code, you'll have to add 315 to the numbers. Once 10-digit dialing kicks in, your calls won't go through without the area code.
Reprogram any automatic dialing equipment you may have. Do you have a home alarm system that automatically dials a local call center when it trips? Do you have dial-up internet service that connects your modem to a local phone exchange? Make sure equipment such as this is reprogrammed to dial the 10-digit number including area code.
Ordering new business stationery? Now is the time to start updating your business cards, stationery, personal checks or other printed materials to add your area code.
Help your children get ready. Teach children and anyone else who needs help how to dial 10 digits.
by Rachel Hunter