Suburbs shift to 708 area code

By Vickie Snow

Saturday initiates a major switch in the phone system of all Chicago suburbs.

Suburbs with the 312 area code will change to 708 as a result of a three year plan to accommodate the communities.

“Chicagoland is running out of phone numbers,” said MaryBeth Sanders, president of NIU’s Public Relations Student Society of America.

PRSSA is working with Contel to promote the area code change and its three month transitional period. Until Feb. 10, calls will be connected after dialing either code, Sanders said.

“Rates won’t change as a result of the introduction of the code changes,” Sanders said. “It will not be long distance from Chicago to the suburbs” although Chicago will keep 312 as an area code, she said.

PRSSA formed a 708 team which “will communicate the area code change on campus,” said Rachel McKeel, public affairs specialist for Contel. The team’s coordinator, Christine Bennett, has “duties to coordinate news coverage so everyone is kept informed.”

The project’s slogan, “Buzz the ‘Burbs with 708,” is printed on T-shirts and is the result of a contest. The winners are PRSSA members Rebecca Bahr, Kris Ellam, Sharon Wallenda and Kelly Pierce.

Pierce, involved with media relations, said PRSSA will host “a series of events and activities designed to get people more aware of using 708 to avoid frustration.”

A “708 Day” in February and posters throughout campus and DeKalb will help to remind the public of the change, McKeel said.

Other PRSSA members will “be involved in various activities during the transition,” McKeel said. “Watch for news on campus.”