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University changes student phone extensions to 986 prefix

To accommodate projected student body growth and the expanded need for administrative phone numbers, all student phone extensions begin with a new 986 prefix this year, according to Frank Ferrara, University manager of telecommunications.

Numbers for administrative offices and faculty members retain the 258 prefix, Ferrara said."The University has the entire 258 series, and we were low on numbers," he said. "Rather than splintering the students into different prefixes, we decided to go with [the 986 prefix] as a single block."

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There are approximately 9,800 active 258 numbers, leaving fewer than 200 remaining numbers. Reallocating the nearly 3,000 student numbers to the new 986 prefix allows for growth in faculty and administration 258 numbers, Ferrara said.

The University is also changing its local telephone carrier from Bell Atlantic to PaeTec, a competitive local service provider, Ferrara said.

"We're switching because we were able to get a better rate," he said. "The Bell Atlantic charge is $1 per reserved number per month, whether you use it or not. [PaeTec] is providing service at a considerably lesser rate — about 15 cents per number per month."

The new carrier will not take over the 258 phone numbers, however, until the University's contract with Bell Atlantic expires at the end of the year.

Ferrara emphasized that the telecommunications changes were designed to better serve the University community.

"We're in service for the whole University," Ferrara said. "At some colleges, students view telecommunications as money-making machines. We're here to make the phones work for the University."

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