(12/02/2008)
In three months West Virginia phone users will have to dial 10-digit numbers, even to access their next door neighbor.

A study shows 40 percent of callers are still dialing only seven digits, following a request by the phone company to help users get accustomed.

"I'm real concerned that people don't realize this is nigh upon us," said Carolyn Barr, a vice president at CityNet.

"Of particular concern to me are the alarm companies," she said. "If they are using dialers that are programmed with seven digits, they will all need to be reprogrammed or the calls will fail.

. The elderly who use devices that have pre-programmed speed-dial buttons are also of concern.

Starting March 1, customers will be required to dial 10 digits. If they don't, they'll get a recording and their call won't go through.

Something had to be done because the inventory of phone numbers that can be issued with only one area code in the state, 304, is running out.

The state has been assigned an additional area code, 681.

After March 1, existing customers who have a phone number with a 304 area code will keep it.

But new telephone customers in West Virginia will be assigned phone numbers with the 681 area code.


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