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TMCNet:  EDITORIAL: PSC made best choice in overlay

[December 26, 2012]

EDITORIAL: PSC made best choice in overlay

Dec 26, 2012 (Messenger-Inquirer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Kentucky Public Service Commission didn't disappoint this time around when it chose the best option to solve western Kentucky's phone number shortage.

Although western Kentucky will receive a new area code -- 364 -- it will be combined with what's called an overlay -- a plan that allows a certain geographic area to keep its area code but forces callers to dial 10 digits instead of seven. Long distance calls will require 11 digits, which phone customers are already accustomed to.

It will prove to be less disruptive than strictly going with a new area code with no overlay to allow landline and wireless users to keep their same phone numbers. This avoids headaches and confusion for the average phone user, and business owners won't have any expense in trying to re-establish phone numbers to their customers.

Prior to cell phones taking over our lives, staying with seven-digit phone numbers was the preferred dialing option for making local calls.

But a lot has changed since the last time -- 1998 to be exact -- the PSC had to weigh creating a new area code for western Kentucky or go with the overlay.

Fourteen years ago landlines were still king and not everyone in the family possessed a mobile phone.

At the time, the PSC made the controversial decision to switch western Kentucky from the 502 area code to 270 without going to an overlay.

But since then, the explosion of wireless users has rapidly consumed phone numbers, forcing the PSC to another crossroads.

However, the decision was made easier because most wireless users already have the 10-digit phone numbers saved in their cell phone's contact list. Instead of dialing numbers, a single button with a person's name assigned to it can be pressed or the phone can be told who to call.

The switch to 10-digit phone numbers won't happen overnight. The overlay won't become official until Feb. 1, 2014.

And when it does take effect, it's hard to imagine the transition being anything other than painless.

___ (c)2012 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.) Visit the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.) at www.messenger-inquirer.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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