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“How to get a 202 phone number for apartment callbox?”

by Prince Of Petworth April 15, 2016 at 2:00 pm 39 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Erin

“At my apartment you need a 202 phone number for the callbox to work. I’m currently paying too much to RCN every month for this service, but I was wondering if anyone knew of any cheaper options like magicjack, a 202 burner phone or number forwarding, anything like that? I’m hoping to save money by going a different route, so any ideas are appreciated.”

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  • CapHillNative

    Google Voice

    • JoDa

      Yup. Set up forwarding to your cell (or home, but the ability to buzz people in remotely is part of the benefit of a call box), free to U.S. numbers.

  • RVAtoDC

    Not sure if this would work, but you could try Google Voice, and set up a 202 number that will forward to your cell.

  • Zach

    Go to google voice, sign up for a free 202 number, and then if you need an actual physical phone line, you can get an Obi200:



    Google Voice as everyone else here has suggested. I use it for the call box in my building and it works great. I just forwarded the calls to my cell.

    • yesjillsergeant

      I do this too!

  • shmoo

    i was under the impression that those only work with landlines, At least that is how every other callbox i have ever had worked.

    • nevermindtheend

      Our call box calls a google voice number that is forwarded to both my and my fiancé’s phone.

      I have never heard of a callbox requiring a phone number with a specific area code.

      • textdoc

        For what it’s worth… my condo building’s management company said that the building’s callbox could take only 202 numbers (not local 301 or 703 numbers) because it allowed for only seven digits.

        • anonymouse_dianne

          This is my sister’s situation. You used to be able to call close in MD and VA with only seven nos. For example 588 was Silver Spring. Now 202 is the cool area code and harder to get assigned. Happened in Atlanta and NOLA IIRC.

        • anon

          There’s a way around this. It’s fairly easy, it just takes a bit of time to program, and you’re limited to entering 10 or 20 other area codes (can’t remember the number).

      • textdoc

        But the 202 number doesn’t have to be a landline. (It’s not like the callbox would know the difference.)

        • Marty

          The DTMF (touch tones) don’t always work as well through a VoIP solution as they do with a landline.

          • textdoc

            Interesting; I didn’t know that.
            But mobile phones don’t qualify as VOIP, right? Only Google Voice, Vonage, etc.?

          • JoDa

            This also depends on the quality of the VoIP set-up. Tones work fine on my work phone, but were hit-or-miss when I had the cheap-o Vonage option years ago over a so/so data connection.
            We require a 202 number, but I’m not sure if that’s because it has to be local or because it only takes 7 digits. Guess I can ask when we have our next meeting…

  • Rick

    I have the same issue at my building and would love an answer to this.

  • H

    When I lived in CoHi my building call box had a 202 requirement but I had a 901. They told me Google Voice would solve that issue. I never did it because it just seemed unsafe to me – I’d prefer to go down and get the person myself – but I know people who do it with no problems.

  • *

    i use google voice forward to my cell.

  • Philippe Lecheval

    You don’t have a cell phone? You can almost certainly use it for the call box.

    • anon

      A lot of buildings require a 202 number – they don’t have long distance calling from the box. Because long distance is still a thing, I guess.

    • Hill Denizen

      A lot of people don’t have 202 cell phone numbers.

      • Philippe Lecheval

        And people are attached to these out-of-state numbers, I take it?

        • CHGal

          A. Yes, and/or
          B. Don’t want to go through the hassle of telling the world your number has changed.

          • JoDa

            ^This. I changed to 202 shortly after moving here because my old area code was local to college and therefore local to only a handful of friends (and many people still used landlines semi-regularly). Nowadays, not sure if I ever would have changed it. The only person I know who still uses a landline religiously (despite having a cell phone ON MY PLAN, thus making it free to call me WHENEVER if she used said cell phone) is my mom.

  • szehmer

    I had the same problem, my apartment building would not add out my out of state number in the callbox because it was long distance. You can sign up for a 202 Google voice number (for free) and then have the number forward to your cell phone. Give the 202 number provided by Google to be entered into the callbox.

  • dolly

    had this exact issue at my apartment building– set up a googlevoice 202 number and had no issues!

  • I think it’s cute that the local exchange for the 202 google voice numbers is (or was when I got one) 495.
    Gotta love their attention to detail.

  • Logan

    Has anyone mentioned Google Voice yet?

    • JoDa

      No…what is that? /jk

  • Building Manager

    Any decent DoorKing (the dominant callbox tech) subscription comes with an option to add a 1 to the area code, and make it usable to any US line (also cell phones, there’s very little difference these days between landline and cell phone technology when you get down to it, they should all work). If your building TRULY doesn’t have this capacity, then they’re being cheap. My guess is that the person who manages the DoorKing account just doesn’t understand the software, and the magic “1”.

    • dunning-kruger

      Agreed. I manage a building as well and it does long distance, I agree their landlord is probably either cheap or doesn’t know how to program it. You can make the system hang up after X amount of time so long distance fees are negligible.

    • cakelyn

      yup. Lazy/cheap building mgmt

  • 202

    If you can’t get or don’t want a 202 from Google Voice for free, there are a number of other services that will do it for <$10 month (NumberBarn, Number Garage, ParkMyPhone).

  • None Left

    I have run into this situation before and everyone keeps suggesting Google Voice. Unfortunately the 202 area code doesn’t have any available numbers left. Does anyone have another suggestion for a free 202 area code?

    • textdoc

      “Unfortunately the 202 area code doesn’t have any available numbers left.” Wow — seriously?? What area code are new D.C. cell phone numbers being assigned — 571? 240?

      • Tom

        When I first got a Google Voice number, there were no 202s or 703s available. 571, 240, and 443 were up for grabs, though!

    • MR

      That was my problem too–when I was looking last year Google was completely out of 202 numbers. I ended up using a Skype 202 number. It’s pretty much the same as Google Voice but you have to pay for the Skype number. Price was cheap (I believe it worked out to a couple of dollars a month). When someone calls the Skype 202 number it will forward to your cell phone. Very easy to set up.

    • topherrobin

      Weird. Tried changing my google voice number and it gave me options for a 202. Gave me at least 100 options

  • Dartagnan

    You can also request a DC only plan for a landline from the phone company, it is only $17 a month.


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