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Not all can call 311

Not all Evanston residents will be able to call the city’s new 311 non-emergency service number when it opens for business on March 1

Aldermen will hold a special meeting Monday night to review plans for the service, but Joe McRae, the assistant to the city manager who’s heading up the program, told residents at a community meeting this week that customers of AT&T’s new U-verse service will not be able to dial just three digits to reach the call center.

McRae said residents with AT&T traditional landline phones will be able to use the service, as will users of AT&T and most other cell phone services.

McRae said AT&T has so far opted not to provide 311 connectivity through U-verse for Evanston or any of the three other communities in Illinois that have the call centers — Chicago, Schaumburg and Romeoville.

He said AT&T won’t disclose how many customers U-verse has in Evanston, but that based on franchise fee revenue to the city, it appears the product has been growing in popularity.

U-verse customers, or users of any other phone service that doesn’t permit dialing just 311 to connect to the center, can instead call a regular 10-digit number — 847-448-4311 — to reach it.

The 10-digit number is also what residents will have to use to reach the 311 center if they are calling from outside Evanston’s city limits.

McRae says he’s still in talks with some of the cell phone providers and with voice-over-Internet services like Vonage about whether they will be able to provide 311 connections by the March 1 launch date, but AT&T U-verse is the only one that definitely will not be on board.

(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story had an error in the 10-digit number. That’s now been corrected.)

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