FLORIDA - Area Code Causes Problems

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Area Code Causes Problem at Some Businesses

Tuesday, May 23, 2000

By ERIC PERA The Ledger

LAKELAND -- Polk County's new 863 area code has created headaches for some businesses that use Time Warner telephone and Internet services.

The new area code became mandatory Monday for Polk and six other counties.

But at least one Time Warner customer discovered he couldn't make phone calls within his own area code, even when using the new number correctly.

"It's a huge problem, and I think a lot of people are having it," said Dean Boring, a Lakeland city commissioner and owner of Boring Business Systems.

"We'll just have to wait until it's fixed," he said. "I don't know if we're going to lose any money, but it's awfully inconvenient."

Time Warner did not return numerous phone calls to its Cable Division offices in Tampa and Connecticut.

It was unclear how many of the media giant's telecommunication customers in Polk are affected by the area code change.

An office worker at GEICO Insurance in Lakeland, which employs more than 1,200 people, said an office e-mail circulated Monday morning addressing telephone problems related to the area code change.

The worker did not provide details and referred all questions to a company spokesman.

GEICO executives reached in Washington, D.C., could not confirm whether the phone problems were related to Time Warner.

Monday brought only minor service interruption for customers of GTE, said a spokesman for the dominant telephone service provider in Polk.

"Everything's been good. We've been testing for weeks," said GTE spokesman Jim Marzano.

Only five customers reported problems with dialing Polk phone numbers, he said.

In every case, he said, it was a GTE customer calling a business or residence that uses another phone service.

Boring, who employs 50 people, said he's looking for a new telephone company after the disaster with Time Warner.

He said the company had months to prepare for the area code change.

When Boring's employees tried calling Polk customers Monday morning, they had to dial the 863 area code for local and long-distance calls.

In many cases the calls wouldn't go through at all, Boring said, and Internet service was delayed until noon.

"Somebody was asleep at the switch," he said.

) 2000 The LedgerQuestions? Problems? Suggestions? online@theledger.com http://www.theledger.com/local/local/23code.htm


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