MONTREAL – It may be as if it was yesterday that the 438 arrived at the beautiful city, making 514 phone numbers a popular commodity, but Montreal needs a new option, federal regulators said Monday.
As of October 22, 2022, a third area code will be introduced for Montrealers: 263.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, better known as the CRTC, wrote in a decision released Monday that the two existing codes are almost sold out.
There has been some confusion as to the proximity of the deadline.
In 2019, those studying the issue discovered that “area codes 438 and 514, which cover much of the Montreal area, were expected to run out by November 2024,” the CRTC wrote.
These kinds of studies are done by an organization called the Canadian Numbering Administrator and then reported to the CRTC.
Then, two years later, there was a twist.
“On June 4, 2021, the ASB published a revised version of the results of a relief [study] conducted in January 2021 indicating that the expected exhaustion date for area codes 438 and 514 was advanced to January 2022, ”the CRTC wrote.
Only five days later, the Canadian numbering administrator reversed that panicked stance and pushed the planned deadline back to 2024, but in February.
The deadline had been brought forward by almost three years.
“This put area codes 438 and 514 at risk,” the ruling said.
Regardless, officials moved quickly at this point, setting up a committee in early July to work out a plan.
The number 263 had already been decided earlier, in fact. It was set aside as a “back-up number” for Montreal in 2017, although at that point people seemed to have assumed they had until 2027 before they had to use it.
There was no explanation as to how regulators arrived at 263, but they will generally choose a new three-digit code that is not similar to the existing ones in order to avoid confusion.