10-digit dialing comes to Northern Ontario
Most of Northern Ontario began the New Year in shambles. There wasn’t a natural disaster or tragic event, but starting January 15, 2011, businesses and consumers in the 705 region adopted 10-digit dialing—the area code followed by the phone number—for all local communications.
This new dialing method has already been implemented with success in Québec and several other regions in Ontario. In Western Canada, 10-digit dialing was introduced in Alberta and B.C in 2008. In addition, the new area code 249 will also be introduced starting on March 19, 2011. For all local calls, 10 digits (area code + local number) must be dialed.
Canada’s major telecommunications service providers in Ontario and Québec have joined forces to develop a broad communications campaign informing the public about the introduction of new area codes in certain calling areas. The members of the alliance are Bell, Vidéotron, Rogers and Telus.
I was amazed at how many people were unaware and unprepared for this event, even though it had been widely advertised on radio, television, in print and on the Internet. We had been preparing for this at work for a year and still had a few missed speed dials and auto-dialers.
It certainly had an impact on many things, including adding the area code when dialing all your numbers, speed-dial lists, telephone options and functions (e.g. call forwarding), fax machines, modems and Internet connections, cellular phones and other wireless devices, security systems, private branch exchanges and voice messaging, auto-dial systems, databases (employees, partners, suppliers, customers, etc.) and equipment for the hearing impaired to name a few.
Between January 15 and March 5, 2011, a call in which the area code was not dialed was being intercepted, a voice recording reminding the caller of the need to dial the area code and the call would proceed. It was much faster to hang up and redial correctly.
On March 5, 2011, 10-digit dialing became mandatory. All businesses and consumers must dial the area code followed by the 7-digit number for all local calls. If the 10-digit number is not dialed, the call will not be completed.
Some small towns are less than impressed that in a population of 1,000 people, they have to dial 10 digits to speak to their neighbour. In my office, you have to dial a 13-key sequence to transfer a call to the desk beside you. This will certainly also affect some of the unorganized townships in Ontario who are not part of the 9-1-1 system.
The reason is simple. The growing popularity of new communications services and technologies has led to a dramatic increase in the demand for phone numbers in several regions across Canada. The solution is 10-digit local dialing. The introduction of this dialing method will enable the creation of millions of new numbers for these regions, allowing for new area codes to be introduced. For each new area code introduced, more than seven million new numbers can be created.
Other new area codes have been introduced:
• 343 in the 613 region in eastern Ontario in May 2010
• 579 in the province of Quebec's 450 region in August 2010
• 249 in Northern Ontario’s 705 region in March 2011
Rather than having to divide up geographic regions, with the overlay method, a new area code can simply be added to the same geographic area as the existing code. This means that existing numbers remain the same. The new area codes will be assigned only to new numbers.