Monday, March 05, 2001

Ask A Stupid Question

Assigning area codes is a numbers game

By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Question: If we are to be subjected to an area code overlay, why don't they just assign it to all pagers, fax machines and cellular phones, reserving the old 513 for home phones? The approach has a degree of logic and would result only in temporary mass confusion rather than permanent confusion.

        Answer: Cincinnati Bell media relations specialist Tressie Long says the first thing you need to know is that area code overlay decisions are made by PUCO and it really “tries to make it as least impactful as possible. They even seek public input.”

        “The kind of overlay the question is about is called a technical overlay and it is possible. But there are pros and cons on each side.”

        The technical overlay, she says, could save businesses the expense of informing customers and changing all their forms. But it could also open the door to a whole new range of higher tech problems. It's up to PUCO to decide which is the lesser of two evils.

        “We don't know yet when area code dialing will be mandatory here. Right now, we're in a grace period, but we expect to hear from PUCO soon about when it will become mandatory. It could be a week, or several weeks, but soon.”

        When 10-digit dialing does become mandatory, 513 and 283 are the numbers you need to remember.

        If you have a stupid question, send it to Ask a Stupid Question, Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati OH 45202; fax: (513) 768-8330.


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