Tuesday, April 15, 1997 | 11:59 a.m.
The telecommunications industry has slammed the receiver on a proposal to change Southern Nevada's area code to 777.
It had been rumored that the telecommunications industry group representing the dozens of communications companies in Nevada might change the local area code to the winning slot numbers at the request of local casino operators.
"It's a neat rumor, but it's not going to happen," said Doug Hescox, Nevada area code relief coordinator, after a public meeting Monday afternoon at the Sahara West Library.
Hescox explained that the number "777" is considered an "easily recognizable code" by the telecommunications industry, and so it is reserved in case it is needed nationally.
Other easily recognizable codes, Hescox said, include the "555" prefix for directory assistance, and the "911" police emergency number.
The meeting was the first of several to be conducted through Wednesday at various locations throughout Nevada so telecommunications officials could hear public comment on a plan to split rapidly growing Nevada into two area codes by late 1998.
Only a dozen local residents attended the afternoon meeting, and few had questions.
Using pointers and maps, telecommunications officials described various alternative plans for the area code change.
They explained that a boundary would be drawn separating Northern and Southern Nevada, and one portion of the state would get a new area code.
The boundary line would be drawn roughly at the northern edge of Clark County, but the exact parameters will be set after public comment is received.
Hescox explained that the decision about which area of the state would change to the new area code would be made only after it is determined how to "inconvenience the fewest number of subscribers."
In other words, Northern Nevada, with its lower population, likely will be changed to the new area code.
The reason for the new area code: growth.
As of July, there were more than 1.1 million people in Clark County. Forecasters predict the population will grow to 2 million within 10 years.
Every area code has the capacity to provide 7.9 million telephone numbers. Today, area code 702 serves about 5.1 million phone numbers and is growing at an annual rate of 90,000.
Hescox stressed that a second area code for Nevada will not affect phone bills.
The industry is expected to submit a proposed area code to the Nevada Public Service Commission for final approval by the end of May.