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WUTC to consider delaying introduction of new 564 area code
 
MEDIA ADVISORY
Aug. 17, 2001

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- State regulators will hold a public meeting Wednesday to consider a proposal that would delay for another year the introduction of a new area code (564) and mandatory 10-digit dialing for local calls in Western Washington.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) has scheduled the meeting at 9: 30 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 22 in the second-floor hearing room of the commission's headquarters, 1300 S. Evergreen Park Dr. S.W., Olympia.

The commission will consider a recommendation by its staff that the deadline of Oct. 20 be extended until the fall of 2002 before implementing the new 564 area code and mandatory 10-digit local calling for telephone customers in Western Washington. Staff members believe the drain on the supply of 360 phone numbers has slowed down recently due to an economic downturn in the telecommunications industry and efforts by the companies to use the existing supply of telephone numbers in a more efficient manner.

If approved by the three-member WUTC, this would be the third postponement in introducing the new 564 area code and requiring customers to dial 10-digits to complete all local phone calls. Originally set to begin July 29, 2000 and affect only 360 residents, the commission extended the deadline to February 2001 when it was determined the industry would not run out of three-digit prefixes in the 360 area code.

Based upon information that other Western Washington area codes (206, 253 and 425) were set to run out of phone numbers in the next several years, the WUTC approved an industry request in May 2000 to overlay the new 564 area code for the entire region. Last summer, the commission decided it was unnecessary to impose 10-digit dialing for local calls on customers and again pushed out the starting date to Oct. 20, 2001.
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