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May 11, 2006 at 6:14 AM

Seven digits are enough for now

Although telecom is constantly pushing so many new technological boundaries these days, we still have to pay attention to some low-tech things, like area codes.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) said Wednesday that after taking many conservative messures, the state will not have to add a new area code until 2010, or three years later than expected.

It said there are enough unused numbers available in the “360” area code region to last until 2010. Once those numbers run out, new customers would be assigned a new area code, no matter where they lived in Western Washington. This means that, for now, customers won’t have to dial 10 digits if they’re dialing in the same area code.

Typically, new area codes have gone to designated geographic areas, but this time, a new code will be “overlaid” across all of Western Washington — forcing customers to dial 10 digits even if they’re calling a number in the same area code.

“Every time a new area code is added, there are disruptions and potential costs to businesses and citizens, so we want to push that date out as far as possible,” said UTC Chairman Mark Sidran. “Our staff and the companies have worked diligently to conserve the existing stock of 360 numbers, and their hard work has paid off well for Washington telephone customers.”

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