Russia will switch to new area codes before 2007

MOSCOW, August 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is planning to adopt new intercity-access and national trunk access codes before the end of 2006, an IT and Communications Ministry official said Wednesday.

Vitaly Slizen said the "0" and "00" codes will be adopted to try to meet international standards. He said foreign tourists had difficulties learning how to make long-distance calls from Russia.

Slizen said the changes would affect nation-wide cellular numbers. For example, instead of dialing "8-903", those calling a cellular number would have to dial "0-903".

The code change is meant to demonopolize the sector, meaning competition will lead to the reduction of charges for intercity and international communications, Slizen said.

Instead of one operator for long-distance communications (Rostelecom, code 8-10), there will be seven private companies.

The official said the numbers for the fire department, the police and medical emergency situations ("01", "02" and "03" respectively) will be changed to combine in favor of a single number, "112", in 2008.

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