Arizona's newest area code 928 will begin Saturday in the Rim country and other rural areas, but during a permissive dialing period that ends Jan. 5, 2002, calls using the 520 area code also will go through.
After Jan. 5, callers who use the old area code will hear a message directing them to hang up and dial again using the 928 area code.
The area code change affects all areas outside the Valley except Pinal, Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties, most all of which will retain the 520 area code, said Heather Murphy, public information officer for the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Communities that will join the Rim country in changing to the 928 area code include Bullhead City, Camp Verde, Chinle, Clifton, Cottonwood, Ehrenberg, Flagstaff, Gila Bend, Globe, Grand Canyon, Holbrook, Kingman, Lake Havasu City, Mohave Valley, Oatman, Page, Parker, Pinetop, Prescott, Quartzsite, Safford, Sedona, Seligman, Show Low, Snowflake, Somerton, Wickenburg, Williams, Window Rock, Winslow, Young and Yuma.
Communities that will stay in the 520 area code include Ajo, Benson, Bisbee, Bowie, Casa Grande, Cascabel, Coolidge, Douglas, Elfrida, Eloy, Florence, Green Valley, Hayden, Maricopa Village, Maricopa, Nogales, Patagonia, Pearce, Portal, Sacaton, San Manuel, San Simon, Sasabe, Sells, Sierra Vista, Stutonic, Sunizona, Superior, Tombstone, Tucson, West San Simon, Whitlow and Wilcox.
"We establish the parameters, and then any phone company doing business in America has to set their equipment to this change," Murphy said. Local phone companies are required to notify their customers of the change.
Qwest, Murphy said, is using a four-color insert stuffed into phone bills.
The new area code is necessary because the 520 area code is running out of available telephone number prefixes. Competition in telecommunications and the rapid proliferation of cellular phones, pagers, fax machines and enhanced Internet services are just a few of the reasons that the supply of available numbers is dwindling.
Murphy recommends that business owners use up their old printed material, but be sure to include the new area code on any new materials ordered. She also advises business owners to keep the new area code in mind when planning ahead for yellow page advertising and industry directories.
Beginning Saturday, telephone and alarm equipment can be tested to see if it recognizes the 928 area code by calling either of two free test numbers: (928) 348-7928 or (928) 526-4928. If a call to the test number does not go through, your equipment provider should be contacted.
For residential customers, Murphy suggests letting friends and relatives know about the new area code. Customers with e-mail can send a message to everyone informing them of the change.
She also recommends noting the new area code on any cards, letters or holiday greetings.