Consumers gear up for area code change to 775 |

Consumers gear up for area code change to 775

by Merrie Leininger

The area code change can be an inconvenience to families in the Carson Valley area, to but businesses and organizations, it is a little bit more.

Brochures, business cards and stationary with phone numbers all have to be replaced so, if a business wasn’t prepared, it could cost a great deal of money when the area code in Northern Nevada changes to 775 Dec. 12.

Veda Bristow, manager of Silver State Printing, said many of her customers were prepared.

“We’ve been doing it for quite a while. Almost all of the customers we do business with have changed over. They have been doing it since March,” she said.

Some solved the problem by putting in half an order with the old phone number and half with the new.

“They knew they wouldn’t use a whole order before it changed,” Bristow said.

However, she has had to remind some customers of the change.

“One customer hadn’t heard about it, she almost didn’t believe me,” Bristow said.

She also said it costs more for customers to make a change in their regular order or place an order with half one number and half another.

The county assessor’s office was prepared, and as a result, it won’t cost as much.

“When we realized it would be changing, we didn’t order anything recently. We’re not throwing much away because we planned on it ahead of time,” Chief Deputy Assessor John Parra said.

n Ready in advance. Anne Hansen, in charge of information and marketing for Western Nevada Community College said the college also prepared well in advance.

“We’ve been preparing for it now for six months to a year, so I think the college is in good shape,” she said. “As we cycle into new printing cycle in June, we’ll just change everything (on brochures) then.”

She said also in lieu of the new phone number, the college put a note on the latest printing of the college’s letterhead that reminds people what the new area code will be and when.

Consumer Education Coordinator of the Public Utilities Commission, Kathy Collar, said educating people about the change is a tough job.

“Education is most difficult. We have directed the telephone industry work on a public information campaign. They are putting notices in billings, working with the media and making recordings that will instruct people when they dial the old number,” Collar said. “That is one of the reasons why we do this as early as we do. We’re hoping this will take enough time so business wouldn’t have to destroy a lot.”

Consumers will have five months to learn the new area code. In May 1999, the new area code will be the only one that will access the number.

Collar said the area code has to be changed when a certain number of phone numbers have been taken up. A special “area code administrator” keeps an eye on the number and lets the utility commission know when it begins to get high.

Collar said about a year ago that number reached about 5 million and a decision was made to change the area code for all of Nevada except Clark County.

“There are only a certain number of numbers that can access the area code and then a new number is needed. That is not even necessarily 5 million people, but each person probably has a pager, a cell phone and a fax,” Collar said.

n Reason for change. The reason the commission picked Northern Nevada to change the area code is because of population and projected growth.

“About 3 million of those phone numbers are in Clark County alone. Projections show there would be a period of five or six years before growth required another change there. We wanted to change up north so no one area is impacted more than it needs to be. In five or six years we will probably have an area code split in Clark County anyway,” she said.

This way, the commission hopes to reduce the impact on Nevada consumers and businesses to no more than once every 10 years.

Anyone with questions can call toll free 1-877-ASK-PUCN.

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