WINSTON/MARION COUNTY - In 2018, the Alabama Public Service Commission approved a new area code overlay for parts of west and central Alabama, to be used in conjunction within area code 205. The new number is 659.
AT&T has announced the new area code change, according to local telephone service provider CenturyLink. The addition of the 659 area code does not mean customers will have to change phone numbers, and officials have planned for a smooth transition.
The biggest change to occur will be having to dial the area code first before the number, as happens when dialing a long distance number. Beginning Oct. 12, 2019, simply dialing from one phone number to another with the same prefix will not connect unless the area code is dialed first, according to a document (PL-523) released by the North American Numbering Plan Administration. For example, one call from Haleyville to another number in Haleyville will result in a recording error if the area code is not dialed first.
During a transitional phase, which will last from April 13 through Oct. 11, 2019, users may or may not dial the area code first, allowing residents the time to become familiar with the new dialing procedure.
There will be no changes to emergency 9-1-1 services and no changes to the current rate or cost for using the 659 area code.
The overlay is being done to avoid costly financial and business hardships. For instance, if a new area code was given to a geographic area without the overlay, the telephone number must be changed for all aspects of a business, including fax machine numbers, ordering new business cards, replacing billboards, etc., not to mention the headache of consumers giving all of their contacts their new ten digit phone number. With this overlay, future numbers may be given either the 205 or 659 area code beginning Nov. 12, 2019.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.