No, it's not long distance

Posted: Wednesday, September 17, 2003

It's been two years since they came, but few people noticed them until recently.

"They" are the 714 prefixes that will begin to be interspersed in new Soldotna telephone numbers. Ten thousand new numbers came on line in summer 2001 from Alaska Communications System and they began being distributed randomly to new Soldotna customers in late July. The numbers will be mixed with 262 and 260 numbers.

"I don't know how many are being used right now," said Chuck Stauffer, general manager for the ACS southwest district.

"Initially, we were the first customer on it about two years ago. We sort of targeted where we needed 100 numbers in a row."

Examples can be found at Central Peninsula General Hospital, where the main line switched from 262-4404 to 714-4404.

"Most of the rest of our numbers changed," said hospital spokesperson Bonnie Nichols. "They ran out of new numbers to give us, so they had to give us the new prefixes."

For now, at least, she said the old numbers will forward calls to the new ones.

"The old numbers are still good for over a year," Nichols said. "We had to keep the old ones because the deadline for the yellow pages and the directory happened before the new phone system was installed."

Stauffer said other locations that need similar multiple lines will take on the new extension, although he admitted he was unaware of any currently on line.

Gradually, he said, 714 will begin appearing in new business and residential listings. As old 260 and 262 numbers are disconnected, some will be replaced at random by the new exchange.

"We hold the (old numbers) after they disconnect for a certain amount of time," Stauffer said. "Business numbers are held for a year after they are disconnected."

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