As of Mar. 14, 10-digit dialing will be necessary for all phone calls in the current 6-0-1 area code of Mississippi.
People in Mississippi who have 6-0-1 as an area code will have to dial 10 digits, the phone number plus the area code, to complete a call, whether long distance or local. The change applies to standard phone lines and cell phones.
"Ten digits for a local phone call? I remember when it was four digits," said Henry Reed of Enterprise, Miss. "Now seven. Now it's going to be 10. What else is it going to be, 20?"
The change in the dialing pattern is due to the implementation of the new 7-6-9 area code in Mississippi.
With people adding telephone lines, fax machines, pagers, cellular service and modems for computers, the new 7-6-9 area code became necessary to accommodate the tremendous growth in the telecommunications industry.
"It's not really a problem for me," said Kittra Hudnall of Meridian. "I mean, it's just three more numbers. I can't see how anyone would have a problem with that. People might have to reprogram their cell phones but it shouldn't be a big deal."
BellSouth officials say no one will have to change their number to accommodate the new 7-6-9 area code, and customers won't experience any changes to their local calling plans.
Anyone who tries to make a call without an area code will receive an intercept message that directs them to dial 10 digits in order to complete the call.