State Corporation Commission adds new area code to 540 region
The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has announced that the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) has assigned a new area code to western and northern portions of the Commonwealth. The new 826 area code will relieve the future exhaustion of phone numbers in Virginia’s 540 area code.
The 540 area code region currently encompasses a wide swath of the state, including Roanoke in the southwest, Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley to the west, Winchester and parts of northern Virginia, and Fredericksburg to the east. The area code was created in 1995, splitting off from the 703 area code. Current estimates predict the available numbers in the 540 area code will be exhausted in 2022.
The relief plan approved by the SCC superimposes the new 826 area code over the same geographic footprint covered by the existing 540 area code region. While 10-digit dialing will now be required for local calls, the Commission determined the overlay solution to be “more durable and/or less disruptive than other alternatives.” Under the plan, no residents and businesses will lose their current 540 phone numbers.
Following a series of public hearings held in the 540 region in early March, the Commission agreed with the findings of the SCC hearing examiner. The telecommunications industry also prefers the overlay solution, as this relief method is the least disruptive for customers.
The SCC’s order directs telecommunications industry service providers to move forward with a proposed 13-month implementation schedule. This includes a six-month period during which calls within the 540 area code can be completed using either 7 or 10-digits. This period is used to ease the transition from 7-digit to 10-digit dialing so customers can be educated on the changes without having calls impacted prior to assignment of the 826 area code.