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Area code 404 covers Atlanta, Georgia, and its closest suburbs, roughly within Interstate 285. It is an enclave area code, completely surrounded by area code 770, which serves most of Atlanta's suburbs.
It was one of the original area codes established in 1947, and originally covered the entire state of Georgia. On July 1, 1954, area code 912 was assigned to southern and central Georgia. Area code 404 was retained for the northern half of the state, from the Tennessee and North Carolina borders as far south as Columbus and Augusta.
Despite Atlanta's growth in the 1970s and 1980s, 404 remained unchanged for 38 years. However, by the end of the 1980s, northern Georgia needed another area code. The supply of numbers was further limited because the 404 territory included portions of three local access and transport areas (LATAs) that spilled into Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee. The Atlanta LATA extends some distance into Alabama, the Augusta LATA spills into South Carolina, and the far northern portion of the 404 territory was part of the Chattanooga LATA. On May 3, 1992, area code 706 was split from 404 for most of the state north and east of metro Atlanta.
When 706 went into service, it included several exurbs of Atlanta. However, BellSouth (now part of AT&T Inc.) added them back to 404 due to customer complaints. The 404/706 boundary was redrawn in a way that left Columbus and its surrounding area cut off from the rest of 706, making 706 one of the few area codes that are not contiguous. However, 404 was still close to exhaustion even after the creation of 706. The Georgia Public Service Commission had already planned to assign 770 to Atlanta's suburbs later in the decade. However, the decision to return the Atlanta exurbs to 404 forced the GPSC to shift nearly all of Atlanta's suburban ring to 770 on August 1, 1995, sooner than had been planned.
The 404/770 boundary roughly follows Interstate 285, popularly known as "the Perimeter." Generally, 404 is Atlanta itself and most suburbs inside the Perimeter (such as Decatur), while most of the metro area outside the Perimeter uses 770. The boundary was drawn in such a way that a number of areas are split between the two codes. For some time after the 770 split, 404 continued to be used for all cellphones in metro Atlanta.
The 1995 split was intended as a long-term solution. However, within two years both 404 and 770 were close to exhaustion due to Atlanta's explosive growth and the proliferation of cellphones and pagers. On January 1, 1998, area code 678 was overlaid onto 404 and 770, with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission requiring 10-digit dialing throughout metro Atlanta. Because the FCC would not allow an area code to apply only to cellphones, mobile customers throughout the metro area were given the option of choosing numbers in the 404, 770 and 678 area codes when signing up for service. On September 2, 2001, area code 470 was overlaid on top of the 404, 770, and 678 area codes. Once phone numbers in the 678 area code are exhausted, phone numbers in the 470 area code will be assigned. The number was chosen by the Georgia Public Service Commission and approved by NANPA, as were the previous splits and overlays for new area codes in the state.
High-capacity telephone numbers, such as for contest lines for radio stations, are assigned prefix 741. When 770 was split, these numbers continued to work as both 404-741-xxxx and as 770-741-xxxx, so that only seven-digit dialing was necessary. This lasted until 678 came into use. There are also other prefixes which are not assigned to just one exchange, such as 499 and 528 used by Cobb County government and formerly SPSU. These were completely moved into 770.
The entire metro Atlanta region (404, 770, 678, 470 and parts of 706/762) is a local calling area, so no long-distance charges are applied for calls from one part of the region to the other. It is one of the largest toll-free calling zones in the world.
All are shared with 770.
|Georgia area codes: 229, 404, 470/678, 478, 706/762, 770, 912|
|West: 770/678||area code 404; entire region overlaid by 470/678'||East: 770/678|