By Gary Qi
INDIANAPOLIS — State leaders are recommending Hoosiers in central Indiana start dialing with 10 digits, instead of seven, when making a phone call.
Soon callers will be required to use 10-digit dialing because utility officials are in the process of introducing a new area code. For example, callers should dial 317-555-5555 instead of 555-5555.
The 317 numbers are in short supply due to population growth, economic progress and the demand for new services.
The new 463 area code will “overlay” the entire 317 area code on Sep. 17. After the change applies, any call dialed with seven digits will not be successfully connected.
“Indiana is one of the 29 states that has added a new area code to an overlay. So, over the last several years, the telecom industry has had a lot of experience in adding these new area codes through this method,” said Anthony Swinger, the director of external affairs for the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor.
A six-month grace period has been given to make sure the process goes smoothly. The grace period will start on March 19. During the grace period, local calls will still be completed by dialing either seven digits or 10 digits, but callers are encouraged to get in the habit of using 10 digits.
“Telecom service providers have been doing the technical work behind the scenes that’s needed to make 10 digits dialing for local calls work. That process normally takes about six months,” said Swinger.
Swinger said consumers are not required to change their existing phone numbers and industries have to wait for at least a month to assign telephone numbers with the new 463 area code.
“Anytime you add in new area code—there is no way to do it without some inconvenience,” said Swinger. “We’ve learned over the last several years though, that the overlay with 10-digit dialing is the least disruptive pattern because, again, you’re talking about changing the way you dial, but everyone can keep their own numbers.”
Swinger also wants people to be aware that the local calls will remain local. The changes in dialing patterns will not turn local calls into long distance calls.
“The three digits numbers will continue to work same. So, for example, to call 911 for an emergency, that does not change,” said Swinger.
Gary Qi is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.