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North American telephone area codes 703 and 571 are area codes which serve most telephone installations in northern Virginia, including the independent cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park, as well as Arlington, Fairfax counties, and parts of Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford counties. 703 was created as one of the original 86 North American area codes in October 1947 and originally served the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. Area code 571 was created on March 1, 2000 as an overlay to 703.
The map to the right is clickable; click on an area code to go to the page for that code.
Local calls, regardless of the area code, are dialed as 10 digits, namely, area code, plus 7-digit number. Long-distance calls are dialed as 11 digits, namely, 1 + area code + the number. Because of the overlay, 7-digit dialing from telephones using either area code is not permitted.
571 and 703 serve the following cities and towns in Virginia: Alexandria, Annandale, Ashburn, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Dale City, Fairfax, Falls Church, Franconia, Great Falls, Groveton, Herndon, Lake Ridge, Leesburg, Lorton, Manassas, Manassas Park, McLean, Mount Vernon, North Springfield, Oakton, Occoquan, Reston, South Riding, Springfield, Sterling, Vienna, West Springfield, and Woodbridge, plus all or part of these counties: Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford.
703 area code originated from the address of the C&P telephone central office in downtown Richmond, VA. The main hub for richmond was 703 East Grace street.
On June 24, 1973, the 703 code began its first split (which became mandatory on January 1, 1974). 703 was restricted to the northern and western regions of Virginia—from Arlington in the north to the Tennessee and Kentucky border— while everything from Danville eastward was reassigned to the 804 area code.
From 1947 to 1991, it was possible for telephone users in the northern Virginia portion of 703 to dial any number in the Washington metropolitan area with only seven digits. This was possible because northern Virginia is part of the Washington LATA, which includes most of the Maryland side of the metro (in area code 301) and the District itself (in area code 202). Every number in the Maryland and Virginia portions of the metro area was given a "hidden" phone number consisting of the same number in the District's 202, essentially making 202 an overlay for the entire metro. One consequence of this was that no prefixes could be duplicated in the three area codes. For instance, if 202-57x was in use in the District, the corresponding 703-57x exchange could not be used anywhere in the 703 territory, even in areas a safe distance from the Washington metro area such as Roanoke and the Tri-Cities. By the end of the 1980s, exchanges on both sides of the Potomac River were running out of numbers. The only way to free up numbers was to end the partial overlay arrangement, a decision that was made in 1991.
On June 19, 1995, most of the western portion of the old 703 area code was split off into the new 540 area code, and 703 was restricted to northern Virginia.
The 1995 split was intended to be a long-term solution. However, within four years, 703 was close to exhaustion due to the proliferation of cell phones, fax machines, and pagers, as well as northern Virginia's explosive growth. The supply of available numbers was further limited since, as mentioned above, northern Virginia is part of the Washington LATA. To solve this problem, area code 571 was introduced on March 1, 2000, as an overlay for 703. Area code 571 serves most new telephone numbers; while it is primarily associated with mobile telephone lines, it is also used for new landline numbers, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office upon moving to Alexandria; the Transportation Security Administration which was created in 2001 and has its headquarters in Arlington; and the Fairfax County Public Schools, which moved its headquarters to the Falls Church area in 2006.
Without the overlay, it would have been necessary to split 703 further.
Although former competitors Bell Atlantic (a former Baby Bell) and GTE had assigned geographical monopolies varying by region in Virginia, they merged in the late 1990s to form Verizon, now the dominant local telephone service provider throughout Virginia (including both of these area codes). Over 85% of all telephone numbers in both of these area codes are served by Verizon, a regulated monopoly.
Competition in the local telephone service market within these area codes has been joined by cable television operators such as Cox Communications, Comcast, and Verizon FiOS, which provide local telephone service running over their own broadband fiber optic telecommunication networks (which also provide cable television and high-speed internet services).
|Virginia area codes: 276, 434, 540, 571, 703, 757, 804|
|West: 540||area code 703/571||East: 301/240, 202|
|District of Columbia area codes: 202|
|Maryland area codes: 240/301, 410/443/667|