New 365 Area Code Overlay For 905/289 in Southern Ontario Coming 2013
As many people in Toronto and the surrounding area (referred to as the Greater Toronto Area or GTA) probably already know that there will be a new area code for phones by 2013. This development has been undertaken with the apparent blessing of the Canadian Numbering Administrator (CNA) and the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA) by the the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) which has decided in its infinite wisdom to overlay another new area code in Southeastern Ontario as the 289 area code which was overlaid in 2001 on top of the then almost exhausted (and now completely exhausted) 905 area code is going to be exhausted itself by 2014. See the full report at the CRTC website here http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2010/2010-213.htm
Before I continue, I feel I should segue to explain something about Canada for my readers outside of Canada. In Canada, unlike pretty much every other nation in the world, there is still long distance charges and roaming charges on cell phones while still in the country and even while still in the same province. As well, most landline phone plans also charge for long distance out of a defined local calling area. This is very different than, for example, Canada’s neighbors to the south, the United States, where one can use a prepaid cell phone with a Miami, Florida phone number to call from Hawaii to New York City and it is considered a local call with no roaming charges.
So the current situation in Southern Ontario is that the 905/289 area code includes the Niagara Peninsula, Hamilton, Oshawa, and the suburban Greater Toronto Area (You can see a map of this here in low-resolution http://www.cnac.ca/npa_codes/npa_map.htm and here in ‘higher-resolution’ – 1703×1509, nothing crazy http://www.cnac.ca/images/AreaCodeMap_highres.png). As such, the calling situation in Toronto and the GTA is very confusing for people. From a Toronto landline or cell phone (which have area codes 416 and 647) one can make a call to the city directly north of Toronto, Vaughan, and it is a local call 905 or 289 number. One can also make a call to a 905 or 289 number in Mississauga and it too is a local call. However, try calling a 905 or 289 number in Hamilton or Niagara Falls and you have to add a 1 before that number because it’s a long distance call. I have even heard tell of areas of Mississauga where people can call both Toronto and Hamilton and both are local calls! The point is, no one in the GTA knows when they are calling a number outside of the 416/647 area code for the first time if they are supposed to use a 1 before the number or not. Every new number is a new adventure!
According to the CRTC decision for the implementation of the overlay of 365 over 905/289:
I. (8) The Commission notes that overlaying a new area code on the area served by area codes 289 and 905 would not require subscribers to change phone numbers. The Commission considers that, compared with the other options evaluated by the RPC [Relief Planning Commission], this would be the least disruptive option for subscribers, would cost less to implement, and would provide long-term relief.
and they even have suggested in the same report that the area code 742 “could potentially be used for future relief in the 365-289-905 area, which is expected to exhaust again approximately 10 years after the next exhaust date.” (II. (15))
With all the above being said I personally believe this is quite a foolishly inefficient method of dealing with the problem and would like to take this space to lobby for a change in plan. I think that there should be a separation of the 905/289 area code’s current coverage into Toronto Local (TOLo) and Toronto Long Distance (TLD) and assign one of them the new area code.
In researching and writing this post I experimented by calling Tim Hortons stores in Durham region (east of Toronto). The stores Pickering and Ajax 905 numbers were TOLo and once I tried a little further east in the city of Whitby it was TLD. This is probably a big part of the problem and the reason overlay after overlay is going to happen – a bad decision early on is just being repeated. The 905/289 area code covers areas north, east and west of the City of Toronto. In each of these directions some of it is TLD and some of it is TOLo. Currently, the area that is known as the GTA which uses 905/289 consists of the municipalities of Durham, Halton, Peel, and York. In all those municipalities although they are identified as the GTA and a vast percentage of them probably come into Toronto to work (and play) and people in Toronto drive to them to work, there are TOLo portions and TLD portions.
It is high time that we normalized this ridiculous situation! Sure it is going to be a pain for a time but if we don’t do it now we are only going to further compound this problem. I say we go with the ease of the majority of the population. According to the Toronto Star, “[e]ach area code has a potential of about 7.5 million unique phone numbers. There are actually more combinations possible than that, but certain numbers, such as those beginning with 911 or 666, for example, are deemed unusable“. And, using the 2006 census the GTA municipalities had about 3 million people. The rest of the areas serviced by 905/289 had, according to the 2006 census, less than 2 million people. The change should therefore be implemented that the four municipalities that are part of the GTA become TOLo in their entirety and get to keep their 905/289 area code and phone numbers. The areas outside the GTA currently using the 905/289 area codes, which include Hamilton, Niagara Falls, St Catherines, and others will get to keep their phone numbers but have the new 365 area code instead. We won’t have to worry about people dialing the wrong numbers because if you try to dial a 905 number while you are in Niagara Falls the call won’t go through as it will be long distance and you didn’t add a 1 serving as your reminder that the number has changed to a 365 number. No one will ever be confused again about whether or not they need to be dialing long distance because the 416/647 area codes and the 905/289 area codes will always be local to each other!
As usual, the views expressed above are just my $0.02. You don’t have to agree with me.