Community Info - Rice Belt

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All customers with the 870 area code should prepare for a 10-digit dialing and the introduction of the new 327 area code. The 327 area code will be added as an overlay to the 870 region. An overlay is the addition of another area code (327) to the same geographic region served by an existing area code (870). An overlay does not require customers to change their existing area code, but does require customers to dial the area code to complete local calls.

A six-month permissive dialing period will begin on July 21, 2023, to give consumers adequate time to adjust to the dialing changes. During this period, local calls can be made with either 7 or 10 digits, and all calls that are local will continue to be local even though you dial 10 digits.

Beginning January 19, 2024, all local calls made within the AR 870 area code must be placed using 10 digits (area code + the 7-digit telephone number). On and after this date, calls placed using just 7 digits will not be completed.

Beginning February 20, 2024, new telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers using the new 327 area code.

The key facts for consumers to know about the upcoming AR 870/327 area code overlay are:
• Your current telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
• If you seek new phone service on and after February 20, 2024, you may be assigned a phone number with the 327 area code.
• You will need to dial the area code + telephone number for all local calls, including calls within the same area code.
• You will continue to dial 1 + area code + telephone number for all long distance calls.
• What is a local call now will remain a local call.
• The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay.
• You can still dial just three digits to reach 911 and 988. You can also dial three digits to reach 211, 311, 511, and 811 where available.

Please remember to identify your telephone number as a 10-digit number and include the area code when giving the number to friends, family, business associates and customers, etc.

Customers should ensure all services, automatic dialing equipment, applications, software, or other types of equipment are reprogrammed to dial 10 digits if they are programmed to dial just 7 digits and recognize the new 327 area code as a valid area code. Examples include life-safety systems, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, gates, ankle monitors, speed dialers, mobile phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and similar functions. Be sure to check your business stationery, advertising materials, personal checks, and your personal or pet ID tags to ensure the area code is included in your telephone number.

Important safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices, and alarm and security systems must be programmed to use 10-digit dialing. Many systems operate on 10-digit dialing by default, but some older equipment may still use 7 digits. Please contact your medical alert or security provider if you are not sure whether your equipment needs to be reprogrammed to accommodate the upcoming change to 10-digit local dialing. Any needed reprogramming of alarm and home security equipment must be done between July 21, 2023, and January 19, 2024.

Remember that all local calls must be programmed using 10 digits and add ‘1’ for all long distance calls.

For additional information, please visit the Arkansas Public Service Commission at: or contact your local telephone service provider.

Rice Belt Logo

WEINER, Arkansas – A major $2 million installation of 21st century fiber-optics connectivity for internet services has begun for customers of the Rice Belt Telephone Company, according to Tom Walden, Rice Belt general manager. The major Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) upgrade project has begun that will serve the towns of Weiner, Waldenburg and Fisher. Separately, Rice Belt voice customers will receive the benefits of what Walden described as a “major technological software upgrade of switching services” that was begun during 2017.

As it proceeds, the new Rice Belt fiber service offering will replace current DSL copper-based services for people living within the towns of Weiner, Waldenburg and Fisher in western Poinsett County.  When completed, Rice Belt customers in those towns will have access to high-speed fiber internet, with three new speed service offerings for residential and business customers.

“Customers will benefit from the fact that the new service offers symmetrical speeds,” said Walden. “That means that data being uploaded – which is typically slower in many DSL and cable settings – will be the same as the data download speed.” If customers purchase the new High-Speed 90 package, their download and upload speeds will both be at 90 Mbps. “This symmetrical upgrade will improve video streaming, gaming, data transmission and other high bandwidth services,” he added.

The major fiber upgrade is being made at no cost to Rice Belt customers. The higher speeds will enable a new and improved service capacity for customers using video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sling, and Hulu.

“This fiber conversion represents a long-awaited project in the area and we’re very pleased to get this moving,” said Walden.

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About Rice Belt Although Rice Belt Telephone Company was incorporated in 1953, its beginnings in western Poinsett county can be traced to the early part of the 20th century. In addition to the recent conversion to 21st century fiber connectivity, many technological advancements have taken place over time for this rural area. Today high-speed fiber internet is available through Rice Belt, which enables customers to easily use streaming media services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Sling to customize the TV services they want. In 2017 Rice Belt began upgrading its telephone voice service to a state-of-the-art communication platform, which also benefits its customers. This major innovation in service follows a legacy of technology improvements, including the conversion a number of years ago from two party lines and operator switchboards to one party service, digital central office equipment and a wide variety of optional calling features. Rice Belt is committed to providing the highest level of services available. At the same time, the company is committed to providing advanced technology for the communities it serves, both now and in the future. Since 1953, Rice Belt has striven to achieve the highest standards of telecommunication services for its customers. Today, the employees serve customers in their homes, communities, and businesses throughout western Poinsett County. For more information, please visit

Contact: Tom Walden, 870-684-2288,
Michael Snyder, 317-805-4870,