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385 area code coming to Utah in 2009

Utah's new 385 area code will be put in place in the spring of 2009, with several months allotted to give callers time to adjust to the change, the state Public Service Commission announced Tuesday.

The commission in July ordered the new area code to "overlay" the existing 801 area code region rather than splitting the 801 region. The new code will mostly affect people in Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, Weber and Utah counties, and new phone numbers will be assigned with the new 385 code as early as March 29, 2009.

People with existing 801 phone numbers will see no change to their area code or phone number.

"Permissive" dialing — using either seven or 10 digits — will be in place from June 1, 2008, through March 1, 2009. Mandatory 10-digit dialing starts at that latter date. Callers still dialing seven digits at that point will get a recording telling them to hang up and dial their call with 10 digits.

Ten-digit dialing will be required for all local calls throughout the 801 region, regardless of whether they are 385 or 801 numbers. Local calling areas will remain the same, meaning if it is currently a local call, it will remain a local call without any tolls.

Three-digit dialing will remain intact for 911 and 411 and other current three-digit service options.

The commission is encouraging people to reprogram as necessary equipment such as automatic dialers, fax machines and computer modems before the mandatory dialing begins. Features such as speed-dialing and call-forwarding may need to be updated. Automatic dialing often is used for life safety systems, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, security gates, speed-dialers, call-forwarding settings, voice mail and other similar services.

The commission also is asking business to verify that their phone equipment can handle completing calls to the new 385 area code because some equipment will not recognize the new code until it has been reprogrammed or upgraded.

Businesses also may need to reprogram or upgrade equipment if they use PBX, electronic telephone sets, auto-dial systems, multiline key systems or other specialized communications equipment.

People who have phone numbers programmed into their cell phones will need to update the cell phone directory to include the appropriate 801 and 385 area codes.

Any costs for updating customer-owned systems or changing printed materials will be the responsibility of the individual customer, the PSC said.

People wanting more information may visit the Utah Division of Public Utilities' Web site at www.publicutilities.utah.gov. The division also can be reached at 800-874-0904 or 801-530-7622.


E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com