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437 area code coming to Toronto

Posted by Robyn Urback / February 13, 2013

437 area codeAt long last, someone for the 647 area code users to turn their noses down at. Starting March 25, the 437 area code will be added to the 416 and 647 area codes as a result of increasing demands for numbers in the region. The 905/289 will also see an additional area code: 365.

The new area codes should not affect existing numbers of change the way long distance numbers are dialed out. And for those who are worried about remembering an extra few numbers; in the wise words of The Simpsons: "Well, scientists have discovered that even monkeys can memorize ten numbers. Are you stupider than a monkey?"

Photo by Michael Fraser photography in the blogTO Flickr pool



Alexander / February 13, 2013 at 11:59 am
Unless my math is wrong, shouldn't there be 10,000,000 numbers for any seven digit number? Can someone explain how we keep running out of area codes when the province only has 10,000,000 people? I must be missing something. I mean sure, I've never seen 416-000-0014 as a number but it's possible right? Like there's no reason somebody couldn't have that as a phone number?
John E replying to a comment from Alexander / February 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm
I think companies buy up large pools of numbers, government probably uses a bunch for service numbers too.
Marc replying to a comment from Alexander / February 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm
I bet you any number with the sequence 9-1-1, 4-1-1 etc is right out. 7x single digits are out, businesses probably grab up a ton of numbers for personal lines, plus some people have land lines in addition to the cell phones...it adds up, and it's a problem you want to work out before it's a pressing issue.
Fergus replying to a comment from Alexander / February 13, 2013 at 12:06 pm
@Alexander Some people have a home phone number, a cell phone number, an office number, a separate home business number, a pager, a fax number, etc. Also, some phone numbers have a cool down period where it can't be used within 90 to 180 days of it being cancelled. You're math is correct, we just have a high ratio of phone numbers to people.
Jon replying to a comment from Alexander / February 13, 2013 at 12:09 pm
People have more than one number. There's also businesses, government offices, etc. It's pretty easy to see how numbers get used up quickly.
bob replying to a comment from Alexander / February 13, 2013 at 12:09 pm
Phone numbers start at (416)200-####
Guy / February 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm
In a phone number, for example "416-100-1234", 416 is the NPA, 100 is the NXX. Valid NXX go [2-9][00-99], excluding [2-9]11. 555 is even technically valid excluding 555-[0100-0199]. There are also reserved NXX. You can find CO code status here, http://www.cnac.ca/data/ac647.htm and http://www.cnac.ca/data/ac416.htm
Mg replying to a comment from bob / February 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm
Even taking into account the two million numbers that precede 200-####, there are still eight million numbers left, 16 million if you include the 647 area code. I'm sure that some of those aren't allowed in order to avoid accidental incorrect dialings (e.g., 911-####, 411-####, etc.). But that should still leave well in excess of 10 million in the two area codes.

On the other hand, phones aren't the only users of the numbers. My iPad has a phone number attached to it so that it can have 3G service.
Dubs replying to a comment from Jon / February 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm
I love the way your response simply reiterated what others had said but in a dick-ish way. For adding no value to the conversation and simultaneously being a dick, you get the (da da daaaa) Troll of the Day award! Congratulations! Go fuck yourself.
iSkyscraper / February 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm
The old codes told you how important a city you were. On the rotary dial, the low numbers were best, the high numbers meant endless click-click-click-click as you dialed. There were no codes starting with 0 (operator) or 1 (long distance), so 212 was the fewest clicks available. Of course that went to New York. LA got 213, Chicago got the equivalent 312, Detroit was 313 (back when Detroit mattered), Philly got 215 (same comment), etc.

Montreal at 514 outranked Toronto by one click at 416, but both were decidedly middle of the pack. Vancouver was way out in the hinterland at 604 with the dreaded "0" as the second digit. And forget the poor Maritimes, all originally 902, as many clicks as South Dakota (605).

While the area codes no longer matter, at least in Toronto you don't have to dial "1" before every call. Some places now force 11 digit dialing with all the overlays, which is annoying, redundant and a waste of memory/time.
Nick / February 13, 2013 at 12:50 pm
It's 905/289, not 905/287.

Yet more evidence blogto doesn't care about you if you're outside Toronto lol.
And for the record, neither do I.
isk / February 13, 2013 at 01:01 pm
Actually numbers including "911" aren't out! Certainly not in BC anyway. You'd think that would make sense but when I was a kid I accidentally called the police trying to call a relation whose number started 5-9-1-1...
Darnell / February 13, 2013 at 01:04 pm
What kind of monkey?
D / February 13, 2013 at 01:41 pm
Does it really make a difference? Every number stored on my phone is in 10-digit format so I don't even think about it anymore.
Rob Ford / February 13, 2013 at 02:09 pm
Rick replying to a comment from Dubs / February 13, 2013 at 02:31 pm
Love the "dickish" comment and the retardation mimic sounds, classy.
Riyko / February 13, 2013 at 02:48 pm
You also have to consider those who aren't from canada and have canadian numbers. Me for instance I have a 289 and 647 numbers and I'm back living in the states but travel to canada often and use the phones a lot. I also have friends from other countries who also have and use their canadian numbers.
Skye replying to a comment from Mg / February 13, 2013 at 02:57 pm
Yes, and my turbo stick also uses a phone number. It all adds up, no pun intended.

It blows your mind when you consider that the ENTIRE GTA used to be 416!
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Skye / February 13, 2013 at 03:13 pm
Not just the entire GTA, more like all of southern Ontario:


iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Skye / February 13, 2013 at 03:14 pm
Compare to today's area code map:


Jeremy replying to a comment from John E / February 13, 2013 at 03:40 pm
"I think companies buy up large pools of numbers, government probably uses a bunch for service numbers too."

This is probably the main cause of running out of numbers. If phone numbers are anything like ip addresses, the challenge is really in how you allocate them hierarchically. Each new number isn't just pulled from a global counter, the entire space is divided among a large number of organizations who each subdivide those sections themselves. Early on, nobody really knows how much space they'll need in the future so sections are generally over-allocated. So now there are probably millions of unused 416 numbers but they are owned by myriads of different organizations and can't be reclaimed for both technical and business reasons.

Routing can be a problem. For instance, in Kitchener-Waterloo, Manulife happens to own the entire 519-59*-**** block for their internal use. All numbers with that prefix will be routed to their phone system which then decides where within the organization to route the call. If they had a batch of numbers within that space that they wanted to give up, say 519-532-****, they'd either have to provide a service that bounced those numbers elsewhere, or the systems that route 519-59* to Manulife would need new directions for that specific subset of the numbers. Multiply that by all the different gaps of unused numbers across an entire area code and the process becomes way too difficult. Much easier to just add a new area code.

And obviously, in the mobile world where you can connect to a network on the other side of the continent and still receive calls to your 416 number, routing technology has improved to the point where it can handle this sort of dynamic routing, but most of the phone system is probably still running on much older technology that is too expensive to replace.

(I don't have a lot of specific knowledge about the phone network, so anyone that does should correct anything I've gotten wrong. I based the above on what I know about how the internet works).

Anyway, phone numbers are old-school technology that don't scale very well (as witnessed by things like roaming and long distance charges). A much better future solution for addressing are identifiers like email addresses or skype ids that aren't directly connected to the system that actually routes traffic (email addresses sort of are, but not to the same degree as a phone number of ip address). The only value to actual phone numbers at this point is their ubiquity as a standard. As soon as there is an internet-based alternative that doesn't rely on one company (like Skype), they will die.
Reader / February 13, 2013 at 03:47 pm
When I lived overseas all phone numbers were 8 digits. Why not do that?

Yes originally 7 digits was chosen becuase it's recognized as the limit of numbers that the average person is easily able to memorize. But the need to memorize numbers has died with the advent of the digital age - everything is programmed into your phone or speed dialer.
Skye replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / February 13, 2013 at 05:49 pm
Kinda blows your mind, eh?

My parents still have a mid-80s push button phone that came from Bell, with our 416-area-code phone number still attached under a little clear slot. I grew up in what's now the northern end of the 905!...guess my kids will gawk at it the way I used to gawk at my grandparent's rotary phone.
Mikey / February 13, 2013 at 05:55 pm
Hey-zeus Chryst!

Everyone is a number theorist these days.
LubTheDubs replying to a comment from Dubs / February 13, 2013 at 07:10 pm
Oh Dubs,

You made me laugh and laugh. Can you PLEEEEEZE serve the greater good and hand out this award every day to someone new. People like Jim ought to suck a bag of dicks, and we need an award to let them know they're won first place.
joshie / February 13, 2013 at 11:34 pm
I got a 416 for sale for $2000 - any takers?
Jonny Bee replying to a comment from Jeremy / February 14, 2013 at 12:38 pm
I know several people not affiliated with Manulife in Kitchener/waterloo that have 519 59***** numbers.

Sorry bro, story doesnt check out.
Jeremy replying to a comment from Jonny Bee / February 14, 2013 at 01:24 pm
Then it's a subset of that range. I know a worker there who had his former 4 digit extension replaced with 519-593-xxxx and the organization certainly had more than 1000 extensions in the 519.
Sebastian / February 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm
Get More Info / July 9, 2013 at 01:35 pm
You have got fantastic thing at this point.

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