888 Joins 800 For Toll-Free Calling

On an average business day, 30-40 percent of the more than 200 million calls on the AT&T; network are toll-free calls.

Now, when you reach for the phone to call toll-free, 800 is not the only number you can dial. After months of planning and cross-industry testing, the new toll-free code 888 is joining 800, doubling the nation's supply of toll-free numbers.

"The creation of 888 is a tribute to the success of 800, which has become the way people get information and do business today," said Ken Sichau, AT&T; vice president of marketing. "The new code carries all the features and functions of 800, and is just as toll-free."

The nation nearly ran out of unused 800 numbers last summer when the FCC stepped in to impose ration-ing. There was concern that 888 would not be ready before 800 numbers were "ex-hausted," and that businesses would not trust the new code. These concerns have been replaced by enthusiastic acceptance.

"As the creators of 800 service, we knew we had to take the lead in making 888 as positive a part of American culture as 800," said Sichau. "We have been delighted by the response of businesses eager to claim new 888 numbers."

AT&T; took on the task of educating the public about 888 when an AT&T-funded; survey taken last summer showed that 99 percent had not heard of the new code. Through an extensive media tour, AT&T; spokespeople brought the news to TV, radio and print. After the tour, public awareness of 888 was up from one percent to 19 percent.

When the nearly eight million 888 numbers are used up, the industry plans to add 877, then 866, and so on. As the toll-free universe expands, people need to remember that the codes are not interchangeable and they need to look at all the digits in a toll-free number when dialing. Despite the newness of the idea, public acceptance is expected to be good.

To look up an 888 or 800 number, call 1-800-555-1212. For information on how to obtain an 888 number for a business, call AT&T; on 1-800-222-0400. (NAPSI)

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