Herald JournalHerald Journal, May 24, 2004

Winsted approves metro calling, but it will take a year

By Lynda Jensen

Sixty-five percent of Winsted callers voted to join the metro calling area, TDS TELECOM Manager Tom Ollig said Thursday.

This means people in the 485- exchange will be able to make calls throughout the Twin Cities area at no toll cost.

The base monthly telephone rates does increase, however, by about $13.55 for each residential line and $21.75 for each business line.

Although the base rate will increase for all lines, an option is available for “measured service” for which there is a per-call charge. This option may result in a lower bill for people who make very few calls.

With the vote approved by local residents, it still will take about a full year before the service goes into effect.

That includes both the procedural and technical aspects that need to be handled, such as all involved phone companies programming their equipment to handle the switch.

Winsted has about 1,900 access lines, which translates to about 1,000 actual customers because many homes or businesses have more than one line, Ollig said.

A total of 1,849 ballots were issued regarding metro calling with 1,170 being returned. Of those, 757 voted in favor and 413 against.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan calling area is geographically the largest toll-free calling area in the United States already, Ollig said.

One of the criteria for joining is that a city can only apply for metro calling if it borders a city already in the area.

The metro calling area includes the following area codes:

• entire 612 (Minneapolis area)

• entire 952 (generally southern part of Twin Cities)

• most of 763 (generally northern part of Twin Cities

• most of 651 (St. Paul area)

• prefixes of 543 (Howard Lake) and 963 (Maple Lake) in area code 320

• prefixes of 262, 364, and 665 in area code 507

The metro calling area extends as far as Stillwater, Taylors Falls, Hastings, New Prague, Princeton, and Cambridge.

Howard Lake and Maple Lake recently became part of the metro calling area. Other current western boundaries includes New Germany and Watertown.

Local calling to Lester Prairie at no cost will remain in effect.

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