Area codes 304 and 681
North American telephone area code 304 was established October 1947 as one of the original area codes, and serves all of the U.S. state of West Virginia. It was overlaid with area code 681, effective March 28, 2009.
Due to West Virginia's low population, it was one of the last remaining states with only one area code. However, in 2007, news reports indicated that West Virginia would soon need a new area code. This was largely due to the proliferation of cell phones and fax machines.
On January 29, 2008, the West Virginia Public Service Commission voted 2-1 for a split of the existing 304 area code, with commission chairman Michael Albert dissenting in favor of an overlay. The proposed split had Charleston and points south (Huntington, Bluefield, Beckley) staying in 304, while the northern and eastern portions of the state (Wheeling, Morgantown, Clarksburg, Parkersburg) would have been split into a new area code. However, telecommunications providers were overwhelmingly in favor of an overlay instead of a split. This would have had the effect of assigning 15.6 million numbers to a state of just over 1.8 million people. Despite this, most of the state's telecommunications providers wanted to spare their northern West Virginia customers, particularly in rural areas, the burden of having to change their numbers–which would have required en masse reprogramming of cell phones. They were still able to ask the Commission to reconsider, or appeal to the West Virginia State Supreme Court, for an overlay instead of a split.
Over the following two weeks, numerous state and local government officials and various business interests voiced strong opposition to a split of 304, in favor of an overlay. Even Governor Joe Manchin voiced his support of an overlay. Several telecommunications providers then officially appealed to the Public Service Commission for an overlay, which was unanimously approved by all three commissioners on February 13, 2008. It was the first example of an entire state previously only served by a single code being overlaid. This example has since been followed by Idaho, where area code 208 was overlaid with 986 in 2017.
At one time, 932 was reserved for use as a future area code in West Virginia, but there has since been a 304-932 exchange code assigned in Charleston. In any event, West Virginia is not currently projected to need need another area code in the foreseeable future.
Implementation dates for 681 code
Implementation dates for permissive and mandatory ten-digit local dialing, as well as the effective date of the overlay, were announced in Neustar NANPA's Planning Letter #375, issued March 21, 2008.
- Permissive ten-digit local dialing of numbers in the existing 304 area code would begin no later than July 26, 2008. (During this period, local 304 calls could still be dialed with just seven digits.)
- Mandatory ten-digit local dialing of existing 304 numbers took effect on February 28, 2009. (Calls within 304 dialed with just seven digits became extinct; a recorded message informed them of the new dialing procedure.)
- New numbers with the 681 area code became available on March 28, 2009, one month after the start of mandatory ten-digit dialing.
- A test number for determining if routing to the new area code is in effect from any West Virginia telephone number, 681-990-TEST (8378), went into service on December 28, 2008 and remained active through June 28, 2009.
- "New Area Code Coming to West Virginia". WOWKTV.com. 2007-01-23. Archived from the original on 2010-02-20. Retrieved 2010-04-16.
- email@example.com (2007-01-25). "New Area Code Coming to West Virginia". State Journal. Archived from the original on 2009-08-04. Retrieved 2010-04-16.
- WV to get second area code Archived 2008-02-01 at the Wayback Machine.. Associated Press, 2008-01-29.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-11-14. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
- "NPA 681 to Overlay NPA 304 (West Virginia)" (PDF). NANPA. 2008-03-21. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2010-02-15. Retrieved 2010-04-16.
|West Virginia area codes: 304/681|
|North: 234/330, 724/878, 240/301, 740|
|West: 606, 220/740||area codes 304 & 681||East: 240/301, 540|
|Kentucky area codes: 270/364, 502, 606, 859|
|Maryland area codes: 240/301, 410/443/667|
|Ohio area codes: 216, 220/740, 234/330, 380/614, 419/567, 440, 513, 937|
|Pennsylvania area codes: 215/267/445, 223/717, 272/570, 412, 484/610, 724, 814, 878|
|Virginia area codes: 276, 434, 540, 571/703, 757, 804|