You might be getting calls soon from more numbers you don't recognize, but that doesn't mean you should hang up. State officials announced Monday that a new area code will begin implementation across Maryland this month, including Washington County.
The new code — 227 — may be assigned to new numbers after June 14 and will apply only to customers requesting a new service or an additional line. The new area code will be implemented in areas formerly under the 301 and 240 area codes.
The Maryland Public Service Commission announced the impending change last September, after voting on Aug. 3 to approve a petition filed by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, which is a neutral third-party entity that allocates telephone numbering resources.
Tori Leonard, a Maryland Public Service Commission spokesperson, told the Herald-Mail in a phone interview Monday she is not sure when the change will go into effect in Washington County, only that it is "possible someone applying for new service could be assigned this new area code" after June 14.
Why are we getting a new area code?
The Maryland Public Service Commission said in a release last year that the remaining supply of available telephone numbers in the 240 and 301 areas was estimated to be exhausted in the second quarter of 2023 — requiring the establishment of a new area code to support future demands in the region.
But Leonard told The Herald-Mail that the upcoming implementation of the 227 area code does not necessarily mean all numbers using the 240 and 301 area codes were exhausted, only that it's "reaching that point."
The 240, 301 and soon-to-be 227 area codes serve all or portions of Aspen Hill, Bethesda, Bowie, Frederick, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Hagerstown, Potomac, Silver Spring, Waldorf, Wheaton and other smaller Maryland communities, according to last year's release. Any other regions using the 240 and 301 area codes will also see the 227 area code implemented.
Will this change the way you dial calls?
Because two area codes serve the 240 and 301 regions, callers are already required to use 10-digit dialing when making calls. Callers in this area have been using 10-digit dialing for more than 20 years since the 240 area code was introduced in 1997, according to previous Herald-Mail reports.
The new code will not require any changes to how area residents and businesses dial telephone calls, aside from using the new area code when necessary.
The following ways of dialing will also remain unchanged:
For local calls to and from other numbers inside the 240, 301 and 227 area codes: dial 10 digits.
For toll calls from the 240, 301 and 227 areas to numbers in another area code: dial 1, plus 10 digits.
For operator services (credit card, collect, third party): dial 0, plus 10 digits.
For 911 and 988, as well as 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 and 811 if those are currently available in a caller's community, callers can still dial with three digits.
Tips to prepare for the new area code
Check devices to verify that area codes are included with all stored numbers.
Continue to program, save and store phone numbers on all devices using the complete 10-digit telephone number.
Verify that all services and equipment — such as automatic dialers, life-safety and medical alert systems, alarm/security systems and security gates, call-forwarding settings and voicemail services — recognize the new area code as a valid phone number.
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Maryland's new area code and what that means for Washington County