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CELLULAR PHONES GIVEN AREA CODE

Cellular telephone and paging devices have become so popular that they'll get their own 917 area code in Manhattan, state officials said Monday.

Under an agreement between city officials, New York Telephone Co. and cellular phone companies, the Bronx also would be removed from the crowded 212 area code and added to the 718 that's already used by phone customers in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The changes would leave only Manhattan's regular telephone customers in the original 212 area code that has served the city since 1947.

New York Telephone spokesman Peter Muller said there are 500,000 cellular phones and pagers in the 212 area code and the phone company estimated it would run out of numbers in 1993 unless it freed more numbers. A spokeswoman for the state Public Service Commission said PSC approval of the plan might come today.

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