New phone prefix not associated with growth

Published 11:52 pm Saturday, July 29, 2006

Last year a new phone prefix was added for the Picayune area enabling up to 10,000 new phone numbers to be utilized, however the addition of this new prefix is not an indication of recent growth.

The new prefix was added in August of 2005, before Hurricane Katrina increased Pearl River County’s population.This is the first instance of a new prefix being added in the last ten years, however BellSouth records only date back to 1996, Regional Manager Rick Stewart said.

The new prefix, 889, will be the last added to the 601 area code of Picayune, Stewart said.

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When new numbers do need to be added to the area the company will use a new area code, 769, with new prefixes, Stewart said.

It will probably be some time before the new area code will be used, Stewart said.

“This 889 (prefix) could last for some time,” Stewart said.

Utilization of the new area code when it is needed will not add long distance charges to Pearl River County resident’s phone bill, Stewart said.

Area codes are not assigned by BellSouth rather the North American Numbering Plan Administration, Stewart said.

When used the need for a new area code arises from the fact that the current 601 area code covers such a large area in the rural state of Mississippi, Stewart said.

However the addition of the new prefix does not act as a good indication of population growth, Stewart said. First off the new prefix was added before Katrina made landfall, and second with in the past year the number of phone lines with BellSouth have decreased by less than one percent, rather than increase, Stewart said. This could be attributed to the increased use of cell phones and Voice Over Internet Protocol phone services, Stewart said. Stewart said there are more cell phones in use today than land lines.