Local News

New area code coming to Triangle

Posted June 1, 2011 4:17 p.m. EDT
Updated June 6, 2011 1:18 p.m. EDT

— Area residents used to dialing seven digits for local calls will soon need to reprogram their phones – and their fingers.

Starting next spring, the Triangle will have a second area code in addition to its longtime 919 code.

The growing number of cellphones – and land lines as the area population increases – is close to exhausting all of the available 919 phone numbers, officials said, so the 984 area code is needed for the Triangle.

"We're running out of numbers in the 919 area code," said Jamie Averette Mitchell, a spokeswoman for CenturyLink, a phone company that has its regional headquarters in Wake Forest. "They're making sure there are sufficient numbers for all land and wireless numbers coming up."

The 919 area code was split in March 1998 to accommodate a shortage of numbers, and the northeastern part of North Carolina was placed in a new 252 area code.

The area code won't be split again, however, and the 984 area code will cover the same region. All existing phone numbers will keep the old 919 code, and numbers that are assigned next year will get the 984 code.

Because the two codes overlap, making a local call will require dialing the area code as well.

"You're going to have to dial 10 digits instead of your normal seven," Mitchell said. "So, if you live in Wake Forest, instead of dialing (the prefix) 554, you'll have to do the 919-554."

Charlotte-area residents have used 10-digit dialing for the past decade, when the 980 area code joined the longtime 704 code.

Triangle resident Cindy Cima said 10-digit dialing is not a big deal, but she says there is a period of adjustment.

"When we were in Maryland and they started doing it, it took a while to get used to it," Cima said. "It was such a pain, but then you get used to it."

Mitchell said the phone companies that serve North Carolina are working together on a plan to add the new area code to their systems.