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10-Digit Dialing Starts on Saturday


Ten-digit local dialing in the Austin area starts this Saturday.

We were just running out of phone numbers. As the Austin population grows, so does the number of telephones.

We’ve had the 512 area code as long as we’ve had an area code, but there are just so many seven-digit numbers, and Joe Cocke, the senior area code relief planner for the North American Numbering Plan Administration – yes, that exists – says we’re running low on prefixes.

“There’s 792 usable prefixes, and out of that 792, there’s only 46 left,” Cocke said.

So say hello to 737; new local phone numbers are about to get that new area code.

And all of us will have to dial 737 or 512 when making local calls, starting Saturday.

“The existing 512 numbers will not change, there’s no change in the cost of a call, what was a local call remains a local call,” Cocke said. “The only change is that seven-digit dialing is going away and all local calls will be dialed using 10 digits.”

For many of us, that means not more dialing so much as it means adding the area codes to the numbers in our contact lists. It may also mean updating security systems, call-forwarding services or business cards.

But try not to let it get you down. In the Houston area, they’re about to get their fourth area code.

Trey Shaar is an All Things Considered producer, reporter and host. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @treyshaar.
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