GTE CUSTOMERS BEGIN LONG GOODBYE' TO 213 AREA CODE;
213/310 SIX-MONTH INTERCHANGEABLE DIALING STARTS TOMORROW
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- How do you say goodbye to an old friend?
If that old friend is the 213 area code and you're a GTE California customer, that goodbye should be a long, comfortable process.
Because with GTE's careful planning, that parting doesn't mean sweet sorrow.
With an interchangable dialing period beginning tomorrow (Nov. 2, 1991, through May 1, 1992), GTE customers in the 213 area code will have six months to prepare for a new area code -- the 310.
"We first announced the pending change in December 1989," said Karen Shaw, GTE state director, public affairs. "And, with extensive customer information and advertising programs in place, we hope to make the change as easy as possible for our customers."
Shaw said that while GTE's transition to the 310 starts tomorrow, it is different from Pacific Bell's. That's because all 1.1 million of GTE's customers in the 213 area code will be in the new 310 code.
She said that during the interchangeable dialing period, customers can make calls to the affected area -- dialing either the 213 or 310 area code. But after May 1, 1992, calls placed incorrectly will reach a recorded message, instructing the caller to redial, using the proper area code.
"Meanwhile, customers have time to get used to dialing 310 instead of 213 and make other necessary preparations," Shaw said.
Those preparations include notifying friends and business associates of the new area code, updating telecommunications systems, as well as making appropriate changes to business cards, stationery, signs and advertising materials.
To inform and remind customers of the coming change, GTE has begun a comprehensive customer contact/advertising program including bill inserts, newspaper and magazine ads, television spots and billboard messages.
Besides these efforts, GTE is making appropriate changes to its network including updating computer software programs in its massive digital and electronic switching centers.
Unlike past area code splits, introduction of the 310 is being driven by a technology explosion, more than a population boom.
"More and more people today have multiple phone numbers in their homes and businesses," Shaw said. "It also has become commonplace for customers to have car phones, fax machines, pagers and computers with modems.
"What all this means is that we're running out of phone numbers in the 213 area code. The vast majority of our customers understands the necessity for change -- and most prefer keeping their telecommunications conveniences to the inevitability of running out of numbers in the 213."
The new 310 and 213 have been planned to keep together communities of common interest, to disrupt as few customers as possible -- and to grow and "exhaust" at about the same rate.
The new 310 will include the western, coastal, southern and eastern portions of Los Angeles County, including Los Angeles International Airport. While most of GTE's affected customers are in Los Angeles County, its customers in the Orange County cities of Seal Beach and Los Alamitos also will move to the 310.
Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and some surrounding communities (all served by Pacific Bell) will retain the 213. Boundaries for the new 213 are La Cienega Blvd. (west), El Segundo Blvd. (south), the Montebello city line (east) and the 818 area code on the north.
With tomorrow's transition to the 310, California will have 12 area codes, the most of any state in the nation. In September, Alameda and Contra Costa counties in Northern California received the 510 area code. And in November 1992, a nine-month interchangeable dialing period begins as the Inland Empire gets the state's 13th code -- the 909.
The 213 has served California since 1947, being split once before when the 818 area code was introduced in 1984.
/CONTACT: Larry Cox of GTE California, 800-227-5556, or 805-373-1653 (outside California)/ CO: GTE California ST: California IN: TLS SU: SE-EH -- LA004 -- 0082 11/01/91 09:02 EST