Big changes to making phone calls in D.C. are about to go into effect.
Phone numbers with the District’s new 771 area code will be issued starting next month, and using the area code while dialing will be mandatory starting this weekend.
D.C.’s area code has been 202 for as long as there have been area codes, back to the 1940s. It’s one of the oldest area codes in the country and a source of pride for many residents.
The 202 area code will soon have some competition. Here’s everything you need to know about 771.
What’s happening and when?
Ten-digit dialing begins for all calls in the District starting Saturday, Oct. 9.
Most of us have been dialing 10 digits for a long time, but you might need to check things like auto-dial and apps you programmed years ago. Alarm systems also could be affected.
The new 771 area code will be issued to all new phones starting Nov. 9.
When do 202 numbers run out?
“We fully expect the 202 to run out sometime between November of this year and the third quarter of 2022,” said Emile Thompson, commissioner of the D.C. Public Service Commission.
That means new phone numbers issued in D.C. will have the 771 area code. However, because phone companies buy phone numbers in huge blocks, you probably still will be able to get a 202 area code number from some providers for months.
How many 202 numbers are there?
There are more than 10 times the number of 202 numbers than there are people who live in D.C. About 690,000 people live in D.C. But there are nearly 8 million 202 phone numbers.
While we’re talking about phones, what’s the state of D.C.’s pay phones?
While the number of 202 numbers has gone up by the thousands every decade, the number of pay phones in the District has plummeted. In the early ‘80s there were more than 11,000 pay phones on streets. Today only six remain. They all have been temporarily disconnected.