Code of secrecy masks phone number switch

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The Independent Online
Telephone codes for Reading are being altered in three weeks time only a year after the much heralded Phone Day transition changed national codes.

Oftel, the industry watchdog, has agreed to the decision. The new code for the Berkshire town, 01189, will come in on 8 April. In contrast to the multi-million Phone Day publicity last April, Reading's new code has received no publicity and was revealed by a local television station.

Thousands of businesses which altered stationery and hoardings, repainted vans and changed advertising last April face the same expense again.

Sandy Stephenson, who runs a data recovery firm, said she heard of the change during a business conversation. "I was just talking and this guy asked me if I knew about the phone code change . . . I was astounded to be told the date."

Oftel said the telephone companies had not revealed the date because they were not ready to go public. "The publicity will start at the beginning of parallel running when both codes will work. The final change will not be until January 1998."