What the new phone area code means to you - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

What the new phone area code means to you

Nicole Hyman, HTC Marketing Coordinator Nicole Hyman, HTC Marketing Coordinator

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Starting next month there will be a new area code in town that will require customers to dial 10-digits whenever they make a local phone call - whether it's through a cell phone or a landline. Starting, Saturday, September 19th you must dial 843 plus the 7-digit number if you want to make a local call.

According to the South Carolina Public Service Commission, the coastal regions are running out of 843 area code numbers so there is a need to expand.

On October 19, 2015 there will be a new 854 area code added to the 843 area code region, which generally covers the South Carolina coastal counties serving communities of Charleston, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach and Florence.

The South Carolina Public Service Commission calls it an area code overlay for these regions. 

Consumers will now be required to dial all 10-digits when you make a local call, even if it's for a business or a neighbor next door to you. The mandatory 10-digit dialing should not affect bills or services if you already have an 843 area code.

"The good news is if you have an 843 area code right now you will continue to keep that area code, after the overlay begins October 19th, keep in mind that is when the new area code will be issued new customers and new accounts by all telephone providers that serves those coastal communities," explained Nicole Hyman, Marketing Director for HTC. 

Hyman said customers should prepare for the new dialing system, and that means checking or re-programming any kind of automatic dialing equipment. 

That includes:

  • Fax machines
  • Life safety or medical devices
  • Alarm/security systems
  • Security gates

Hyman also recommends checking your call forwarding settings and updating contact lists to include 10-digit numbers. Most consumers already dial 10-digits when using a cell phone to make a call so Hyman said that should not affect mobile customers, but for home phone users or landlines like businesses, their fingers will have to do some extra roaming in order to reach out. 

HTC says they have been trying to prepare customers and businesses for the area code and dialing changes. 

Hyman said, "We encourage businesses to make changes to their advertising materials, including their stationary, business cards, their website, anything where they have their phone number listed they need to make sure they include the area code."

Hyman said if you sign up for new phone or internet services after or on October 19th, you could be issued a new 854 area code. 

Long distance calls will be made the same and for 911 emergencies three digits will still be dialed. 
    
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