January 22, 1996
CALLERS MUST USE 540 AREA CODE STARTING JANUARY
RICHMOND, VA -- The six-month grace period for dialing Virginia's
540 area code ends January 27.
Since the introduction of the 540 code last July 15, the public has
been allowed to dial either the old 703 area code or the new code. In
either situation, the call would go through.
Beginning next Saturday callers who misdial, using the old 703 code,
will hear a recorded message advising them that the area code has
changed to 540, and they must redial their call.
The recordings will be in place for at least 60 days. After that
time, the company will begin assigning seven-digit telephone numbers
currently in the 540 area to customers in northern Virginia, served by
the 703 code.
The 540 area code stretches from Lee County in the southwestern tip of
the state northeastward through Roanoke and the Shenandoah Valley to
Winchester and western Loudoun County. The code also includes
Fredericksburg and Stafford County to the east.
Some businesses and other institutions may have to make modifications
to their in-house switchboards to dial numbers using the 540 code. It
is one of the first area codes in the nation to have a second digit
other than a '0' or '1.'
PBXs (private branch exchanges) built prior to 1992 may not recognize
area codes that have a number other than a '1' or '0' as a second
digit. If they haven't already done so, businesses that have a PBX,
should call their PBX vendor to see if an upgrade is necessary.
Bell Atlantic reminds its customers to change Speed Calling and other
memory-dialing features on their phones and fax machine to reflect the
new area code.
Adoption of the new area code was necessary because of the rapid
depletion of phone numbers in western and northern Virginia. Bell
Atlantic attributes much of the growth in phone numbers to the
popularity of fax machines, pagers, cellular phones and computer
Also, companies competing for local telephone service for the first
time, beginning in 1996, will require phone numbers of their own to
serve their customers.
Two other area codes currently serve the state--703 in northern
Virginia and 804 in central and eastern Virginia. Last month the
telecommunications industry announced a fourth area code will be split
off from the 804 code in late 1996 to serve the Peninsula, South
Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore. The number for that code has not
yet been announced.
Bell Atlantic Corporation is at the forefront of the new
communications, entertainment and information industry. The
Philadelphia-based company provides a full array of local
telecommunications services throughout the mid-Atlantic region and is
majority owner of one of the nation's largest cellular carriers. Bell
Atlantic is a partner in leading national alliances that will offer
wireless communications, as well as video and interactive programming.
Bell Atlantic also has substantial holdings and operations in
international markets and provides services for customer-based
for more information, contact: