Hello 428: Days numbered for New Brunswick’s single area code

Hello 428: Days numbered for New Brunswick’s single area code

If you ask someone in New Brunswick for their phone number, you’ll get an answer you wouldn’t hear in most other provinces: seven digits.

The seven-digit phone number that’s peeling off store signs, crumpled on folded take-out menus and smudged in the latest issue of Coffee News is part of the province.

But this spring, New Brunswickers are losing the ability to dial a seven-digit phone number.

“New Brunswick, obviously, they’re going to move into modern times almost with the rest of Canada and now have to dial 10 digits to get to their local neighbor,” said Kelly T. Walsh, program manager for the Canadian Numbering Administrator, who handles phone numbers in Canada tracked and administered.

Kelly T. Walsh said despite what people may think, the Canadian Numbering Administration cannot select a number as a new area code. (Zoom/CBC)

The move to 10-digit dialing comes as the province adopts a new area code this spring.

The 428 area code will be added to the province’s phone system in April, but Walsh said 506 probably won’t go out until 2024. However, the 10-digit area code will become mandatory in New Brunswick on April 15.

How to add new area codes

The Canadian Numbering Administrator is a neutral body regulated by the CRTC. It keeps track of area codes across the country and schedules when they’re going to run out of numbers.

According to Walsh, they do this by working with phone service providers to predict when the exchanges’ codes will be exhausted. An area code, known as a CO area code, is the three digits in a phone number that come after the area code.

There are 10,000 phone numbers per trunk code.

“That’s why we ask them at least every year, typically six years in advance, to forecast how many CO codes they’re going to need in each area code complex,” Walsh said.

“And we put all of that together and roll it up to all the primaries, and we determine the exhaust conditions that each primary is going to have.”

CLOCK | Is the 506 ready for the 428? New Brunswick adopts 10-digit area code and prepares for 428 area code One of the last places in Canada to have a 7-digit area code, NB is poised to introduce 10 digits — and one more area code.

The process of adding 428 to New Brunswick began back in 2015 when the numbering administrator saw exhaustion on the horizon.

A committee was formed back then to come up with a plan and pick a new number, which isn’t as exciting as it sounds.

“I think what some people don’t understand is that we can’t pick a number, we have very few numbers to choose from,” Walsh said.

That’s because New Brunswick is a small piece of a large puzzle that is the North American numbering plan.

The plan includes 25 regions in 20 countries in North America and the Caribbean. And due to the size of the US population, there aren’t many numbers to choose from.

“We have about 11 percent of geographic numbers in Canada. So we have to share all these numbers,” Walsh said. And all the numbers in the continent-wide plan will also eventually expire. The current prediction is 2055 according to Walsh.

Canada has about 11 percent of the numbers in the North American numbering plan. (CBC)

Once it has been determined which numbers are available, the Canadian Numbering Administrator enters them into a table.

“We would look at them and compare the neighboring area codes around them and see the feasibility from a technical standpoint,” Walsh said.

In the early days of the plan, an area code like 428 would not have been technically feasible.

According to a 1956 document from the American Telegraph and Telephone Company, now AT&T, at birth of 506 in the 1950s, area codes were created with only a one or zero as the middle digit. In this way, switching devices could distinguish area codes from the following numbers.

That explains how we got area codes like 902, 416, and 604. But today, as 428 shows, that’s not a problem.

An area code like 428 would not have been viable in the early days of continental telecommunications. (CBC)

“I used to say, generally, that’s old hat, but that’s not old hat for New Brunswick at all,” Walsh said.

In preparation for the change, Walsh said New Brunswickers with older devices that can dial and store phone numbers should ensure all numbers are programmed as ten digits.

“And [people should know] that if their phone rings and they see this 428-something that’s not necessarily a long-distance number, it could be next door.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *