The District’s easily recognizable 202 area code will be joined by a second area code assigned to some new phone numbers beginning Nov. 9 — and it means a change for how customers place calls within the city.
The District of Columbia has used the 202 area code since 1947. D.C. is projected to run out of new phone numbers during the third quarter of 2022, which is why the North American Numbering Plan Administration has added the new 771 overlay.
The 771 area code will cover the entire District and is not assigned to any specific area. D.C. residents with a 202 phone number will keep that as long as their current phone service remains in effect.
As a result of the second area code, starting Oct. 9, 10-digit dialing will be required to complete all calls within the District. That means dialing 202 plus the seven-digit number or, eventually, 771 plus the seven-digit number. Currently, calls placed within the District to another District number require only dialing the seven-digit number.
While most equipment connected to a phone line automatically defaults to a 10-digit phone number, the D.C. Public Service Commission does warn that some older equipment may not have that ability and may need to be updated, or the programmed seven-digit dialing won’t connect.
Devices that may need updates include life safety systems, fax machines, ankle monitors, speed dialers, contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services and safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices and alarm and security systems. Updates must be done between April 10 and Oct. 9.
Other things that may be overlooked and need to be updated include business stationery, personal checks and personal or pet ID tags.