Digital disarray for 775 |

Digital disarray for 775

Sally J. Taylor

People in Nevada who faithfully changed their letterhead to the new 775 area code could be missing some important phone calls.

Freelance writer Kim Pryor recently discovered that the hard way. At least two contacts who used 775 had trouble making connections with her.

“One person tried to call me from Kentucky and couldn’t get through,” she said. “He finally called PacBell and they called me wondering what was wrong with my phone.”

A caller from Florida also could not get through.

Kathleen Farrell, executive director of the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce, discovered problems while on recent business trips. Calls she attempted from both the Bay Area and Seattle required the 702 area code to reach Stateline. With 775 she received a recorded message saying the number was not valid.

Pryor was told by a GTE technician that some of the hundreds of telephone companies around the country had not yet reprogrammed their equipment to recognize the 775 area code.

The California-Nevada Code Administration, the organization charged with smoothing the transition to new area codes, considers the glitches a localized problem.

“The PBX (switchboard) systems, originating from private phone systems, sometimes are not upgraded to recognize the new area code,” said administration spokeswoman Alison Costa.

Area codes originally had a middle number of either “0” or “1” to signal computerized systems that it was processing an area code. The modern flood of phones, faxes and modems created a need for more area codes than the previous system could accommodate.

Computerized systems need to be reprogrammed to recognize new codes with middle numbers such as the “7” in 775 or “3” in 530.

Nevada technically is still in the “get acquainted period” when either area code should deliver calls to their destination. The transition period, which began Dec. 12, is designed to provide time to prepare for the change. After May 12, the 702 area code will only serve the Las Vegas region.

The glitches should be fixed by then, Costa said.

“PBX vendors are used to making the change,” she said. “More often than not, they make the change (before the grace period ends).”

In the meantime, Pryor wishes she had known about the potential glitches ahead of time.

“What if editors aren’t getting through to me,” she said. “I could lose an assignment.

“If I had known, I could have put a note down on the bottom of my letterhead to use 702 if they can’t get through on 775.”

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