3 Banal Thoughts on 10-Digit Dialing

For those who don’t know, Montreal went to 10-digit phone dialing this month.

1. When I moved here, I enjoyed the 7-digit phone number as kind of rustic. There’s some kind of threshold between 7 and 10 numbers on the phone. Or maybe that there was a tactile distinction between local and long distance calling, and now there isn’t.

2. A quick browse of the reports show that the original CRTC hearings on the change took place in 2001, but that it didn’t happen because the anticipated demand for phone numbers didn’t materialize. But now it is happening. Except here’s the hitch: the claim is that the new area code is needed because of demand for numbers. There are approximately 1.8 million people living on the island, a few thousand more counting for migration since the last census. Now, granted you can’t use a prefix like 911 or 411, but even there, there’s an impossibly large number of numbers in the 514 area code when you line it up against the number of people, or even businesses. So the “demand” is actually not from consumers but from prospecting phone companies themselves, who buy phone numbers and whole prefixes in bulk. At least, this is what happened in several U.S. cities (including Pittsburgh when I lived there).

3. There is talk of prospecting for 514 numbers, or selling them off on ebay as if they’ll become prestige commodities. But that is quite unlikely to occur on any significant scale — very quickly, people will adjust to the new area code and that will be that. A quick search of ebay for “phone number” and “area code 212” yielded no phone numbers for sale.

One reply on “3 Banal Thoughts on 10-Digit Dialing”

  1. I hear a simliar regional code prestige occurs in London and Toronto. In London it’s a prestige thing if your number starts with 0207-this being central London and 0208 being the outskirts. And then in Toronto it’s the 416-inner 905-outer thingamajig-the whole core-periphery debate and all that sort of jazz.

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