'434' Required on Calling Beginning Jan. 15

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia's new 434 area code becomes official Jan. 15.

On that date, callers must dial 434 to reach phone numbers in parts of central and southside Virginia. The 804 area code will no longer serve the area.

The 434 code, which was carved out of the existing 804 area, serves communities to the south and west of the Greater Richmond area, including Charlottesville, Danville and Lynchburg. (See related map online at www.state.va.us/scc/news/map.pdf)

Many customers have actually been using the 434 area code since June 1. During the transition to the new area code, calls could also be completed using the 804 code. However, beginning Jan. 15, callers who dial the 804 area code for numbers in the 434 area will hear a recording advising them to dial the new code.

Counties in the new area code include Albermarle, Fluvanna, Buckingham, Nelson, Amherst, Appomattox, Campbell, Pittsylvania, Halifax, Charlotte, Prince Edward, Nottoway, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Brunswick and Greensville.

Portions of additional counties are also affected by the area code, including the southern portion of Green County, southwestern Louisa County, eastern Bedford County, southern Cumberland County, southwestern Sussex County, extreme western Southampton County, and small sections of southeastern Dinwiddie and neighboring southern Prince George counties.

The 804 area code will continue to serve the Greater Richmond area, as well as the town of West Point and communities on the upper and middle peninsulas.

The new code has no effect on rates or on local calling areas. The places that can be dialed locally now can be dialed locally after the introduction of the 434 area code. However, local calls between the two area codes will require the correct area code and its seven-digit number.

A dwindling supply of telephone exchange codes in the 804 area code prompted the change. There are 756 useable exchange codes (first three digits of a phone number) in an area code. A single exchange contains as many as 10,000 telephone numbers.

The demand for phone numbers is sparked in large measure by the growing number of telecommunications companies competing for local phone service. These companies require a large supply of numbers to serve their customers. In addition, thousands of customers are now linked to the outside world through fax machines, pagers, cellular phones, modems and other communications devices that need phone numbers.

In addition, the growing number of telecommunications companies competing for local phone service in the state require a large supply of numbers to serve their customers.

Area codes have traditionally had either a "0" or a "1" as a second digit. However, all of those possible area codes are now used. Some businesses and other institutions may have to make modifications to their in-house switchboards to accommodate dialing area codes that have another number as a second digit. Businesses that have a PBX (private branch exchange) built prior to 1992 should call their supplier to see if an upgrade is necessary.

The 571 area code, an overlay area code, was introduced two years ago to serve Northern Virginia along with the existing 703 area code. The 757 area code in southeastern Virginia was introduced in July 1996. The 540 area code began serving customers in the western part of the state in July 1995. The 804 area code, which was carved out of the 703 area code, dates to 1973.

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