On February 26th, Eastern Nebraska is getting a new area code that will affect approximately 1 million residents of the Cornhusker State.

The new area code is due to the significantly increased need for numbers that Eastern Nebraska has experienced, mostly from population growth.  The new 531 area code will overlap with the current 402 area code and will be assigned when 402 numbers in a local area are exhausted.   Those who live in the new 402/531 region will need to dial the entire 10-digit phone number when making local calls to ensure the calls are routed correctly.  If you attempt to dial using the seven-digit dialing procedure, you will not be able to complete the call.   The change officially goes into effect Feb. 26, 2011.

Check out the new 402/531 region (caption)

Great Plains Communications want to assure our customers that while callers must now dial a full 10-digit code, their local calls will still be free.    The new dialing procedure does not affect three-digit numbers including 411 and 911. A “1” must still be dialed before the area code when making long distance calls. For those who are concerned that a new 531 area code will be assigned to them soon, it’s unlikely the new code will show up in Great Plains Communications’ communities for quite some time.

“Great Plains Technicians and Customer Service Representatives can help our customers through this transition by being aware of the February 26 deadline and trouble reports coming in with dialing problems.  We can keep reminding business customers to check their phone equipment to make necessary changes.  This is an industry change for all telecommunications customers in the 402 area—not just Great Plains Communications customers.  Customers have received several types of notices regarding these changes, and it is our hope the transition will occur smoothly,” says Kathy Tripp, Director of Special Services at Great Plains Communications.

Residents of Eastern Nebraska may be affected in several ways.   Phones or computers that have saved seven-digit numbers including dial-up internet connections, speed dial settings, voicemail and life safety systems will need to be re-programmed.  While the dialing change will take place in February, those who want to begin updating their programmed phone numbers can already do so as we are in a permissive dialing phase.

Businesses should ensure that stationery and online sites reflect the updated area codes.  Owners should also check phone-based equipment as some automatically dialed calls may require reprogramming to include the new dialing procedure. These numbers may include: fax machines, alarm and security systems, speed dialers, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and similar functions.

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