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530 now exclusive area code in Tahoe

Sally J. Taylor

California-side Tahoe residents who have not cultivated the habit of using their new 530 area code have a lot of catching up to do.

On Saturday the grace period during which either the old 916 or the new 530 area codes could be used will end.

And that’s not all.

The special dispensation that allowed seven-digit dialing across the state line on the South Shore also will end.

Beginning Saturday, cross-state line callers must dial 1, plus the area code, plus the seven-digit number. That’s 11 numbers to punch, program or dial.

Callers across North Shore’s state line know what a lot of trouble that can be. They’ve been doing it for years.

After the change, the Sacramento metropolitan area will keep the 916 area code. The rest of that code region, which includes 24 counties stretching north to the Oregon boarder, east to the Nevada boarder and west to the Coastal Range, will officially be area code 530, California’s 18th area code.

California Code Administrator Doug Hescox, who oversees area code relief efforts on behalf of the statewide telecommunications industry, said the introduction of the 530 area code will not affect the price of telephone calls.

“Call distance determines call price,” Hescox said. “What is a local call now will remain a local call regardless of the area code change.”

For the next three months, callers attempting to dial 530 numbers with 916 will hear their friendly computer-voiced operator reminding them about the area code change. It will be up to them to redial.

All the hassle comes because so many people not only have telephones that need numbers assigned, but the number of modems, fax machines, cell phones and pagers have increased exponentially in recent years.

The new 530 area code is expected to accommodate the need for new phone numbers for about 16 years. The remaining 916 area code could divide in seven to eight years.

Later this year, Nevada residents, who have been unified under one area code since their conception, will divide into two codes.

Residents around Las Vegas will keep the 702 area code while Northern Nevadans, including those at Tahoe, will be reassigned the new 775 code.

“The area code change has special implications for certain types of telecommunications equipment that must be reprogrammed to recognize the new-style area codes,” Hescox said. “Historically, area codes always had either a ‘1’ or ‘0’ as the middle digit for identification purposes but by 1995, all of those codes had been assigned. However, certain types of telecommunications equipment were built to look for that middle digit of ‘1’ or ‘0’ to process the call.”

Those who have not done so already need to make important changes including:

— Changing stationery, business cards and advertising.

— Notifying friends, relatives, business contacts and customers.

— Updating fax machine group calling lists that may be impacted.

— Reprogramming speed dialers, auto dialers, alarms and private phone systems.

— Reprogramming affected out-dial lists on personal computers.

— Checking with wireless phone and paging service providers as well as Internet service providers to see if reprogramming is required.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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