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Area code 250

Area code 250 is an area code which serves the Canadian province of British Columbia outside the Lower Mainland, including Vancouver Island–home to the provincial capital, Victoria–and the province's Interior. It was created on October 19, 1996, as a split of area code 604, which was retained by the Lower Mainland.[1]

The area code also serves the United States community of Hyder, Alaska, which sits along the border near the town of Stewart.

The incumbent local exchange carriers are Telus, Northwestel and CityWest in the city of Prince Rupert.

By the mid-2000s, 250 was already on the verge of exhaustion, due primarily to Canada's inefficient system of number allocation. Canada does not use number pooling as a relief measure; each carrier is allocated blocks of 10,000 numbers (corresponding to a single prefix) in each rate centre where it plans to offer service, even in the smallest hamlets. While most regions do not need that many phone numbers, once a prefix is assigned to a rate centre, it cannot be allocated elsewhere. This has resulted in thousands of wasted numbers, a problem exacerbated by the proliferation of first pagers and then cell phones—particularly on Vancouver Island and in the larger cities in the Interior.

Amid projections that 250 would exhaust by January 2008, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission began considering relief options in early 2007. Proposals included:


Several of the major landline and wireless providers in the 250 territory strongly favoured an overlay, saying it would be easier to implement than a split. They also wanted to spare themselves and their customers the expense and burden of changing their numbers, which would have required en masse reprogramming of cell phones.[3]

Ultimately, the CRTC announced on June 7, 2007 that 778 would be expanded to become an overlay for the entire province starting on July 4. On that date, exchanges in 778 became available to Vancouver Island and Interior residents. [4] The CRTC ultimately decided on an overlay after concluding that there was not enough time to implement a split before 250 was due to exhaust.[3] Effective June 23, 2008, ten-digit dialing became mandatory throughout the entire province, and attempts to make a seven-digit call triggered an intercept message with a reminder of the new rule. After September 12, 2008, seven-digit dialing no longer functioned.[5] Overlays have become the preferred method of area code relief in Canada, as they are an easy workaround for the number allocation problem as opposed to a split plan.


Communities includedEdit

Relief planningEdit

The projected exhaust date of area code 250 was January 2008. The plan recommended by the Canadian Numbering Administrator, to change the boundaries of area code 778 to include the entire province, was approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on June 7, 2007. Mandatory 10-digit dialing began September 12, 2008.[6] As this solution was an overlay, the existing telephone numbers in area code 250 remained unchanged. Three CO prefixes in the 250 area code were reserved for use by Northwestel, as 13 of its 15 switches at the time could not handle multiple area codes, and its system could not accommodate 10-digit-dialling.[6]

Area code 236 was implemented as a distributed overlay of area codes 604, 250, and 778 on 1 June 2013.[7]

Area code 672 has been reserved for British Columbia once area code 236 is exhausted.[7]

See alsoEdit

British Columbia area codes: 236/778, 250, 604
North: 867
West: Pacific Ocean, 907 250 (overlaid by 778 and 236) East: 780, 403, 587/825
South: 604/778/236, 360, 509, 208, 406
Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut area codes: 867
Idaho area codes: 208
Washington area codes: 206, 253, 360, 425, 509, 564
Alaska area codes: 907


  1. ^ "NPA Code Search Information". NANPA. Archived from the original on 3 November 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  2. ^ New dialing to come in British Columbia Archived June 29, 2009[Date mismatch], at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b Telecom Decision 2007-38
  4. ^ New dialing to come in British Columbia Archived June 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Ten-digit dialing coming to all of B.C.
  6. ^ a b "Telecom Decision CRTC 2007-38". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. 7 June 2007. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Telecom Decision CRTC 2011-451". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Retrieved 4 August 2011.

External linksEdit