620… Get used to it

The new 620 area code for the Hillsboro area-and a wide swatch of central Kansas-is only days away from going into effect.

The starting date has been announced as Feb. 3 by the Kansas Corporation Commission.

The plan includes a time for transition. From Feb. 3 to Nov. 3, customers can still use 316 as they always have.

From Nov. 3 to Jan. 5, 2002, callers who dial the 316 area code incorrectly will reach a recorded message that tells them of the change.

The KCC first announced in early September that it would be geographically splitting the existing 316 area code and establishing an additional area code in Kansas.

The Wichita metropolitan local calling area will retain the 316 area code and the 620 area code has been assigned to the balance of the existing 316 geographical area.

The KCC stated that the change was necessary because it was rapidly approaching the depletion of available phone numbers, thanks to the rise of cell phones, fax machines and the Internet.

The KCC chose the current plan because it “minimizes the impact to the state as a whole.”

Projections based on the historical rate of numbers assigned indicate this plan will provide relief for about six years in the Wichita metropolitan area and 24 years in the balance of the 316 geographical area.

The 785 and 913 area codes will not be affected by this change, and the split will not change billing. What is currently a local call will remain a local and what is a toll call will remain a toll call, according to the KCC.

The area continuing with the 316 area code serves the greater Wichita area, plus most of Harvey, Butler and Sedgwick counties.

Communities to be served by the 316 area code in Harvey County include Newton and Halstead, but Walton and Hesston will become 620 cities-as will El Dorado in Butler County.

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