Beginning today, Pacific Bell is offering Southern California customers both local and national directory assistance through its familiar 411 service.
With the new offering, callers can get a telephone number for anywhere in the country without having to know the area code. Such national requests will cost 95 cents per use, even if the number is unlisted or not found. California regulators last week gave PacBell permission to charge as much as $1.10 per call for the national information, but the phone company said it has no immediate plans to raise the per-call price.
Callers who request local numbers from 411 will still be charged 25 cents per number after the caller's free allotment is used up. However, PacBell has proposed a price increase for local 411 calls and a decrease in the number of free local requests. Regulators are reviewing that request.
For the next six months, 411 callers will hear a recording explaining that the service now covers both local and long-distance directory assistance. PacBell said callers can ask the operator if they are unsure which price they will be charged. PacBell will gradually add the service in Northern California, beginning in May. In California, the combined 411 service is also offered by GTE Corp. and a few smaller phone companies.
PacBell's national listing service will compete with rival services offered by long-distance companies AT&T and MCI WorldCom.