BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It was just last year that we had to start dialing the 716 area code to make local phone calls, something we have never had to do before. Now, Western New York is getting a new area code, but you won’t have to change a thing.
Western New Yorkers take great pride in our 716 area code, even when folks move out of the area, they keep the 716 area code on their cell phone. But 716 is running out of numbers and soon we are going to get a new area code, a newcomer, with 716 becoming a telephone legacy.
716 is as recognizable to a Bills fan as “Shout” or the “Sabre Dance” to Sabres fans. In fact, you go to Highmark stadium, and it’s right there for the world to see — 716.
Now the 716 area code is getting a new sibling.
“I am not sure I like that idea of adding a new area code or even another one at all. But I guess that’s progress, right? People are moving in and I think it will always be the 716,” said Laurie Beck, Bills fan.
In fact, the plan calls for folks with the 716 area code to keep theirs, it is newcomers that will get the new number. Western New York has had the 716 area code since before most of us were born. In 1947, the 716 area code went from Buffalo to past Rochester.
In 2001, 716 was split into two, Rochester taking on the 585 area code and Buffalo keeping 716. Now the new area code will be overlaid on 716 for newcomers.
“Let’s say you have kids, or whatever the situation is, and they get a cell phone later down the road and if your carrier is out of numbers you would get the new area code at that point. You may have the possibility of having both area codes in your own family,” said Heidi Wayman, administrator, North American Numbering Plan.
Nate Mroz sells a wide variety of 716 gear and paraphernalia at his four BFLO Stores. The new area code could offer a unique marketing strategy, newcomer versus legacy.
“I can actually see something unique come up where the 716 becomes more of a retro element, sort of like the Bills’ old logo has become so relevant now,” said Nate Mroz, owner, BFLO Store. “It might be kind of a neat thing, we could do a playoff of the old and the new. Maybe do some neat new designs with that.”
Officials estimate the 716 area code is going to run out of phone numbers early in 2024, and any changes have to be approved by the state.