I was waiting at the bus stop beside D!'s place last night after our weekly Smackdown viewing when I decided I had to buy a Journal due to an article teased on the front page.
"Ten-digit local phone numbers coming."
Immediately, I thought: Wait a tic, didn't we get a new area code five years ago?
Well, yes we did. But we're running out of numbers already, thanks to the huge explosion of cell phones, fax machines, and pagers in the province.
At this rate, Calgary and Southern Alberta will run out of numbers in the 403 code in 2009, while Edmonton and the rest of the 780 area is expected to run out in 2011.
Even though there's a potential 10 million numbers (granted not every combination would work, as there's no 0 is the prefixes, usually) in all the permutations of phone numbers we could have in our area code. (Taking out all the numbers that start with 0xx, 911, 866, 800, 611, and 411, we get 8.95 million potential phone numbers in Northern Alberta.)
Crazy, isn't it? There's just over a million people in Alberta, and I know that these are including corporate numbers as well. But that's saying that the average Albertan has at least 5 different personal numbers, which is kind of scary.
In any case, since it's a HUGE pain in the ass to cut up the areas again and give Alberta four area codes, we're looking at a new area code overlay, where they'll just add this new code to the front of numbers. Which means that we'll be using 10 digit phone numbers to get someone in the same city that happens to have a cell phone or a new number come three years from now.
Vancouver and the Lower Mainland had to go through this already, where they've got two area codes, and it seems to have worked.
And it is easier to do all of Alberta simultaneously, which is why it's going to happen so soon.
So buckle up, Alberta. It'll be time for remembering to add 780 or whatever other code we'll be getting to the front of any local number we dial.
Also, do you know the reason why most of our prefixes have lower numbers in them? Rotary phones. I could elaborate if you want to know...
Canadian Regions that will run out of numbers in the near future:
780 Edmonton/Alberta North - Nov 2011
403 Calgary/Alberta South - Sept 2009
250 B.C. (excluding Lower Mainland) - May 2009
519 Southwest Ontario - Oct 2006
613/819 Ottawa/Hull - June 2006
416 Toronto ran out in 2001
905 Toronto area ran out in 2001
514 Montreal ran out in 2002
604 B.C. Lower Mainland ran out in 2001