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Amanda Butterfield ReportingUtahns, loosen up your digits! Dialing will never be the same. The state is getting a new area code, and even if you get to keep your old one, it will change the way you make a phone call.
Yes, the days of seven-digit phone numbers in Utah will soon be over. The new area code means that within a year, all Utahns will be using 10-digit phone numbers. This will not affect your current phone number, whether land line or cell. The big change will be for folks who will be getting a new phone number.
By spring of 2008, the 801 area code will be exhausted.
Julie Orchard, with the Public Service Commission, says, "The telecomm industry has been expanding very rapidly."
So the Public Service Commission had to do something, and it just announced it would give new phone customers a new area code - 385. That will have to be dialed on every call.
"Now everyone is going to have to start dialing at least ten digits," Orchard said.
Long distance dialing won't change, customers will still dial 'one' before the number, like we do now; it's just the area code will already be part of the number.
One customer, Scott Platz says, "A lot of times I put the area code in anyway, so I don't think it's that big of a deal, to be honest with you."
Another customer, Chris Majnik, says, "I don't really see it as that big of a deal ‘cause I use my cell phone, and I have all my numbers programmed in anyway, so it doesn't make a difference to me."
For others, it does make a difference. Mike and Lori Hansen said, "Now we know where we're calling and how long distance it is. If it's 801 or 435, we know where it is, and if you don't have a specific number you won't know where you're calling."
You won't be able to tell where the person calling you is from by the area code anymore, either, since new customers from St. George to Logan will have the same prefix. Something had to be done, though, and the only other option would be changing the area codes of current phone numbers.
Platz says, "If a whole bunch of people have to change it, it could be a pain in the butt."
That's what the wireless and land line industries told the Public Service Commission, too; that's why 10 is the new seven.
The Division of Public Utilities will be helping to inform both old and new phone users on the change so everything is clear by this time next year. Remember, your current phone number won't change, it will affect new numbers starting spring time next year.