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New area code

Brief by Central Staff

Communications – May 1995 – Colorado Central Magazine

GUNNISON — Parts of Central Colorado got a new area code as of April 2 as the phone companies adjust to increasing demand for phone lines.

The new area code, 970, doesn’t affect the 719 territory that was established seven years ago. The 970 zone comes from the rural parts of the old 303 zone — in essence, everything outside metro Denver that used to be 303 is 970.

Until Oct. 1, you can use either 303 or 970 for those phones; after that, it’s 970 or you won’t get through.

970 is one of the first area codes which doesn’t have a “1” or “0” as its middle digit. That’s how the switching equipment used to distinguish an area code from a prefix, but they were running out of acceptable area-code combinations.

So now, area codes can be almost any combination. And the switching equipment knows what’s what because the area code always comes first.

This explains why you now have to dial the area code for all long-distance calls; before this system went in, you didn’t need the area code for calls within your area code.