10-digit dialing debuts
It went smoothly for the most part, but not without a little whining
The Mail Tribune
By JOHN DARLING, for the Mail Tribune
January 12, 2010
It was a rare person who didn't complain Monday about having to dial 10 digits for local calls — but the biggest bother came with resetting call-forwarding, speed-dialing and alarm systems.
"It cost us thousands and thousands of
man hours over the last several months," said consultant Henry
Knepp of S.O.S. Alarm in
"It cost us a lot, but there was no other option."
Ten-digit dialing for local calls began Sunday in preparation for a new area code, 458, which will start getting assigned to new accounts in February. The move was necessitated by the explosion of new numbers for cell phones, faxes and pagers.
The 541 and 458 area codes will cover
all but northwestern
"You'll start to see the 458 area code with new numbers in March," said Bob Gravely, Qwest regional spokesman. "It will be only for new numbers. No 541 numbers will change."
Adding the 458 area code here "isn't going to be a big deal," said Gravely, now that 10-digit dialing is in place.
The switchover to mandatory area code dialing "sounds like it's going smoothly," said Bob Valdez, Oregon Public Utilities Commission spokesman, except "some folks have overlooked reprogramming" their call forwarding and speed dialing to 10-digits.
"If it's a medical issue (with physicians and clinics) and the call doesn't get through, it could be of concern," he said.
The office staff of physician John
"There's been a lot of whining" about calls interrupted by a Qwest recording informing callers to use all 10 digits, said Barbara Hansen, office manager for Heller Chiropractic in Ashland.
"It should become a habit for me after about a month," she joked.
"Personally," said Knepp, "it's been a minor headache, misdialing numbers and doing it again."
David Martin, telecommunications technician for the city of Ashland, said "it's going very well" after he and his staff put in 80 hours reprogramming and testing call-forwarding and speed dialing with extra digits, including lines linked to alarm security.
"It's taking time for people to realize they have to dial the area codes," said Gravely, adding that in Qwest's system, the software and equipment adjustments have taken a year and have "gone very well."
"There's not a problem with the system but there are people who need to program numbers in their phones and faxes or it's not going to go through," said Gravely. "There's no way around it."
Special test numbers have been set up
for businesses to check that their systems are ready for the new
Questions about the changes can be answered at www.puc.state.or.us/ or call the PUC at 1-800-522-2404.
John Darling is a freelance writer