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Northern Virginia to Get New '571' Area Code
Voluntary 10-Digit Local Dialing Starts June 1
February 8, 1999
RICHMOND, Va. -- Northern Virginia's second area code, scheduled for
introduction next year, will be "571." Lockheed Martin IMS, which
administers the North American Numbering Plan, recently assigned the
code, which brings to five the number of area codes in Virginia.
"With explosive growth in the region and competition for local phone
service, telephone companies are consuming phone numbers at a very
rapid rate in northern Virginia," said Hugh Stallard, president and CEO of
Bell Atlantic - Virginia. "This new area code will open up a huge new
pool of phone numbers."
The 571 code will effectively double the phone numbers available to
northern Virginians. An area code can serve nearly eight million phone
The 571 area code will serve the same geography as that now served by
the 703 area code. The new code will be overlaid on the 703 area,
allowing all current customers to keep their existing phone numbers.
Beginning April 1, 2000, new services may be assigned numbers in the
571 area code.
Late last year, the Virginia State Corporation Commission chose an
overlay area code plan over the geographic-split approach for introducing
a new area code in northern Virginia. A geographic split would have
placed most of Arlington and Alexandria, and a small portion of Fairfax
County, in the 703 area code, while the rest of northern Virginia would
have been changed to 571.
Since Maryland's adoption of the first overlay area codes in 1997, many
more states across the country have opted for this method to free up new
phone numbers. In addition to Maryland, overlay area codes are currently
in use, or are being planned for, in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Houston,
New York City and Philadelphia, as well as parts of the states of
California and Kentucky.
"The commission made a wise decision in authorizing an overlay for
northern Virginia," Stallard said. "Dividing the 703 area code
geographically would have been more costly, more confusing and far more
disruptive to our customers."
With the introduction of the 571 area code next year, next-door neighbors
may potentially have different area codes. Because of this, all northern
Virginia callers will need to dial the area code and seven-digit phone
number -- or Ten-Number Numbersm -- for all local calls. Many northern
Virginians are already well acquainted with 10-digit local dialing. They
have been dialing local calls to the District of Columbia and the nearby
Maryland suburbs for over 10 years.
Rates and local calling areas will not be affected by this new dialing
change. A local call is still a local call. Long distance calls will require a
"1" in addition to the area code and phone number, as they do today.
Customers will still dial 911 for emergency service and 411 for directory
Customers in the 703 area code should begin dialing Ten-Number
Numbers June 1. If they forget to dial all 10 numbers, the calls will still
go through for the next nine months while people become familiar with
the new way of dialing. Customers should use this time to reprogram such
equipment as automatic speed dialers on telephones, facsimile machines,
alarm circuits and Internet access numbers. They should also begin
including all 10 digits when giving out their phone numbers.
Starting March 1, 2000, all customers in northern Virginia must dial 10
digits when placing a local phone call. Customers who dial a local call
with seven digits after that time will hear a recording instructing them to
dial both the area code and telephone number. The telecommunications
industry will begin assigning the new 571 code about a month later.
Bell Atlantic plans an extensive public information campaign to acquaint
its customers with the change.
When introduced next year, 571 will be Virginia's third new area code in
less than five years. In 1996, the 540 area code was carved out of 703 to
serve the western part of the state. A year later the industry split the 804
area code, adopting 757 for eastern Virginia.
Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and
information industry. With 42 million telephone access lines and eight
million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are
premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market
leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory
information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest
investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations
and investments in 23 countries.