531 area code will soon be used in eastern Nebraska alongside 402 phone numbers



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LINCOLN, Nebraska — The first 531 phone numbers in Nebraska's new area code will soon be activated.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports (http://bit.ly/1JivDxZ ) the small towns of Atkinson and Oakland are where the new area code will get its start.

State regulators sent the first 531 numbers to CenturyLink after the company requested them. But at some point the Public Service Commission will begin automatically giving out the new area code numbers to other telephone carriers as it runs out of 402 numbers, said Gene Hand, telecommunications director for the commission.

The new 531 area code was overlaid on top of the 402 area, so 402 customers won't be forced to switch phone numbers. The new area code was needed because phone companies were running out of numbers in the existing 402 area code.

All calls in the area will require the area code plus the seven-digit telephone number. Eventually, people in the same city will have a mix of 531 and 402 area codes.

CenturyLink plans to use the 531 numbers for new Voice Over Internet Protocol phone lines for businesses in the two towns, said Steve Pacholski, market development manager for CenturyLink.

Officials in Oakland and Atkinson were surprised to learn they will be some of the first to use the new area code.

"I'm surprised. Even shocked," said Lou Ann Tooker, Atkinson's economic development director. "I've not heard a thing about it."

Oakland Mayor Ted Beckner said he's pretty sure people in Oakland don't want to be the first ones with the new 531 area code.

Eastern Nebraskans began 10-digit dialing in February 2011 to prepare for the new area code's arrival. The 402 area code was established in 1947 and covers roughly the eastern third of Nebraska and a northern group of counties.

The rest of the state uses the 308 area code.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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