Equal Access

Code Red

The addition of 12 new area codes this year may have your employees pulling out their hair in frustration. The problem? Companies with PBXs (or private branch exchanges) may have difficulties dialing the new area codes, not all of which have the traditional '0' or '1' as the middle digit.

"Problems occur when business customers haven't updated their PBX," says Ed Dyl, North American numbering plan project manager for Lucent Technologies, a subsidiary of AT&T. "Many companies' PBX systems can't dial the new area codes, or even the new 888 toll-free numbers."

Particularly if you own a PBX system purchased prior to 1992, says Dyl, you'll probably need to upgrade your software or equipment this year. Of the businesses that have experienced problems so far, about 90 percent required updated software-costing small businesses anywhere from $850 to $5,000. Hardware upgrades, of course, are considerably more, Dyl says.

To put your PBX to the test, call the designated test number at (561) 615-8484; if the call doesn't go through, contact your PBX manufacturer to get the appropriate software or equipment.

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This article was originally published in the July 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Equal Access.

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