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COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES PRELIMINARY PLAN FOR AREA CODE SPLIT IN MICHIGAN

 COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES PRELIMINARY PLAN FOR AREA CODE SPLIT IN MICHIGAN
 DETROIT, Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- A broad-based citizens committee announced today it is developing a plan to split the 313 area code in early 1994.
 The group was enlisted by Michigan Bell last fall because the existing area code quickly is running out of telephone numbers.
 Committee leader Joe O'Connor, president of Consumer Market Analysts in Birmingham, said the group has decided to propose to the public a preliminary plan that splits the area code into north and south regions.
 The split roughly would follow Eight Mile Road in the metropolitan Detroit area.
 Communities such as Detroit, the Grosse Pointes, Ann Arbor and Monroe would remain in the 313 region. Communities such as Farmington, Mount Clemens, Flint, Lapeer, Port Huron and Sandusky would receive a new area code.
 "Since area codes were introduced in 1947, phone numbers have been depleted by population and business growth," said David Bassett, Michigan Bell senior director - community and consumer relations. "More recently, phone numbers have been drained even further by the proliferation of new technology such as fax machines, cellular phones and paging devices."
 The citizens committee will discuss its plan with community leaders, businesses and organizations representing special interest groups. Public meetings also are planned.
 Customers can phone in their comments by calling 1-800-831-8989, which is a toll-free number.
 Committee members will use the comments they gather to help reach a final recommendation that will be submitted to Michigan Bell in June.
 Bassett said it is important customers realize that splitting the 313 area code will not increase their costs.
 "The area code which some customers will have to dial will be different, but their rates will stay the same," Bassett said. "Calls that are local today will still be local after the split, regardless of which side of the line they're on."
 Southeastern Michigan is about the 25th metropolitan region to add area codes. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Boston are among those that already have had to split an area code.
 Michigan Bell commissioned the citizens committee -- believed to be the first in the nation -- to avert problems experienced in other cities where customers were not consulted at the beginning of the process.
 In talking with representatives of other cities, committee members learned why their role is so critical, committee leader O'Connor said.
 "One of the important lessons committee members learned from other cities is that the split, wherever it is, must fall along a line customers are familiar with," he said. "We want customers to know -- without constantly consulting their phone books or maps -- whether the friend or business client they're calling is in the 313 area code or the new area code.
 "We also have to be sure that customers know that this is a change in dialing patterns and not a rate change," O'Connor said.
 The committee will not know the new area code number until this spring, after Michigan Bell submits the final plan for review to Bell Communications Research in New Jersey. Called Bellcore, the telecommunications research and development organization administers and assigns area codes throughout North America.
 Committee members were appointed by the Detroit mayor's office, the executives of Wayne and Oakland counties, the Macomb County Board of Commissioners and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. Michigan Bell and the Michigan Public Service Commission also are represented. Committee members are:
 -- The Rev. Wendell Anthony, Detroit community representative;
 -- Arthur Wild, director - Wayne County department of jobs and economic development;
 -- Joseph Joachim, deputy county executive, Oakland County;
 -- Richard Roose, Macomb County director of planning and operations;
 -- Robert Smith, retired chairman - Southeast Michigan Council of Governments;
 -- William Celio, director - communications division, Michigan Public Service Commission; and
 -- Harry Semerjian, senior director - corporate planning, Michigan Bell.
 The five companies other than Michigan Bell with customers in the area also are involved in the process for making the split and concur with the preliminary plan. Those companies are: ALLTEL, Century Telephone, Deerfield-Farmers, GTE-North and Lennon Telephone.
 -0- 2/19/92
 /CONTACT: Joe O'Connor of the citizens committee, 313-647-9770/ CO: Michigan Bell ST: Michigan IN: TLS SU:


SB -- DE016 -- 0521 02/19/92 14:05 EST
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Date:Feb 19, 1992
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