Area codes 819 and 873

Area codes 819 and 873 are area codes for central and western Quebec, Canada, including the Quebec portion of the National Capital Region, and the Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay coastlines of Quebec. Major cities in the territory include Gatineau, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières.

The incumbent local exchange carriers in 819/873 are Bell Canada, Bell Aliant, Telus, as well as Télébec and other independent companies. From 1992 to 1997, Northwestel was also an incumbent carrier in 819, as it included former Bell Canada areas in the Northwest Territories.

Area code 468 is reserved as a third area code in the region.

HistoryEdit

 
Sherbrooke, Québec

Originally, Quebec was divided between two area codes. Area code 514 originally covered the entire western half of Quebec, from the US border to Hudson Strait, and area code 418 served the eastern half. In a 1957 flash cut, area code 514 was split into three segments. The southern region (including Montreal) remained 514; the middle region became 819; and the northern region, which had no telephone services, was added to 418.

Area code 819 thus bordered area code 613 and the new area code 705 in Ontario, area code 418 in the east and the north of Quebec, and the remainder of area code 514 in the south of Quebrc.

When telephone service was introduced in the eastern Northwest Territories, most of which is now the territory of Nunavut, created in 1999), in Frobisher Bay in 1958, Bell Canada nominally made it part of area code 418. In the 1960s and the 1970s, telephone service was introduced by Bell Canada at other locations in the eastern Northwest Territories and in locations along the Quebec Arctic coastline, as well as by Sotel, an independent company, in the James Bay region. Those non-diallable locations also became part of area code 418.

In the late 1970s, the northern parts of area code 418 served by Sotel and Bell along James, Hudson and Ungava Bays and Hudson Strait, as well as the eastern Northwest Territories, were assigned to area code 819 as exchanges in that area began to receive direct distance dialling. Thus, area code 819 now also bordered area code 709 of Newfoundland in the Torngat Mountain area and area code 403 where Bell Canada and Northwestel service areas met, as well as area code 204 (Manitoba) and area code 807 (northwestern Ontario). Also, from the late 1970s to 1997, area code 819 extended one eighth of the way around the world, from the 45th parallel north at Stanstead, Quebec, to the North Pole by including much of the Northwest Territories along with most of western Quebec. Northwestel used Alberta's area code 403 for its services in Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

In 1997 and 1998, the portions of 819 in the Northwest Territories, as well as the portions of 403 in the Northwest Territories and Yukon, were transferred to area code 867, which was newly created to unite all of the Canadian territories, including Nunavut, which was created in 1999. Area code 819 was cut back to western Quebec, and area code 403 was reduced to serve only Alberta. Thus, borders with area codes 403, 204, and 807 were replaced with the single border on area code 867. Area code 514 was split shortly afterward, which changed area code's 819's border with 514 to a boundary with Area code 450, the new area code for the off-island suburbs of Montreal.

Until 2006, it was possible to make calls between Ottawa and Hull with only seven digits since Ottawa and Hull are a single local calling area. A similar situation prevailed in the Washington metropolitan area in which calls could be completed with just seven digits even though the region spilled across three area codes in three jurisdictions: Washington itself and parts of Maryland and Virginia. An "exchange protection" scheme prevented the same seven-digit local number from being assigned in both Ottawa and Hull. That code protection was implemented in such a manner that if an exchange in +1-819-77x (1-819-PRovince) was in use in Hull, the corresponding +1-613-77x exchange could not be used anywhere in Eastern Ontario. Conversely, if an exchange in +1-613-23x was used in Ottawa, the corresponding +1-819-23x exchange could not be used anywhere in western Quebec, even in areas a safe distance from the National Capital Region such as Mauricie and Estrie.

The problem was exacerbated by Canada's inefficient system of number allocation. Even tiny hamlets are a rate centres, with multiple competitive local exchange carriers being issued 10,000-number blocks, each of which corresponds to a single three-digit prefix. Larger cities had multiple rate centres, most of which were not amalgamated during the creation of "megacities" in Quebec in 2002 and still remain separate.For instance, Hull was in 2002 merged into the "megacity" of Gatineau. However, the megacity has five separate rate centres, which have never been amalgamated. The city centre exchange (serving the former cities of Hull and Pointe-Gatineau) is still named "Ottawa-Hull," and the "Gatineau" exchange serves only the pre-merger city of Gatineau.[1] The Gatineau and Aylmer exchanges, despite being part of the amalgamated municipality of Gatineau, remained long-distance calls to each other until a 16 August 2007 expansion of their local calling area, five years after the merger.[2]

Many smaller rate centres do not need nearly that many numbers in order to adequately serve their customers, but a number cannot be assigned elsewhere once it has been allocated to a carrier and rate centre. That resulted in thousands of wasted numbers, and the proliferation of cell phones and pagers have exacerbated the problem. By 2006, area code819 was effectively exhausted except for central office codes that theoretically could have been assigned in Hull but only by breaking seven-digit dialling between Ottawa and Hull. The situation could have been avoided if some +1-819 versions of the seven-digit Ottawa-Hull numbers had been assigned to areas a safe distance from the National Capital Region years earlier.

Ten-digit dialling was made mandatory in both area codes 819 and 613 on October 21, 2006, and exchange protection was largely ended. Seven-digit local calls in centres far from the area code boundary (such as Trois-Rivières or Belleville, with no local calling into any other area code at the time) were failing with intercept messages demanding customers to "dial the area code."

The only legacy of the old system is a "dual dialability" scheme for federal government numbers in the National Capital Region. All federal government offices on the Quebec side have duplicated their entire allocation of multiple exchanges worth of numbers available on the Ontario side.

Originally to be introduced in 2015, the CRTC on July 20, 2011 moved up the introduction of the new area code 873 to September 15, 2012 after a report stated that the current area code 819 would be exhausted by then.[3] Area code 873 had never been assigned as a local exchange in 1-819 because the tiny border village Beebe Plain is divided between 1-819-876 Rock Island and 1-802-873 Derby Line, an international local call that had been given exchange code protection to permit seven-digit local dialling.

There is still no number pooling in Canada, and redundant telephone exchange rate centres are not merged when the underlying municipalities are amalgamated. The inefficient allocation of 10,000-number blocks to multiple carriers in each of multiple rate centres in what is often the same municipality continues unabated.

In February 2017, area code 468 was reserved as a third area code in the region.[4]

Places that use this area codeEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Hull and Gatineau on localcallingguide.com; "Gatineau" is still a former suburb ("secteur") with a far more restrictive calling area, particularly into Ontario.
  2. ^ "Communities abandoned by CRTC, says commissioner". IT World Canada.
  3. ^ "New area code assigned to Quebec". CBC.ca. July 20, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-20.
  4. ^ "Telecom Decision CRTC 2017-38". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. 3 February 2017.

External linksEdit

Quebec area codes: 367/418/581, 438/514, 450/579, 819/873
North: 867
West: 705/249 Area codes 819/873 East: 418/581, 709
South: 207, 450/579, 613/343, 603, 802
Ontario area codes: 226/519/548, 249/705, 289/365/905, 343/613, 416/437/647, 807
Newfoundland and Labrador area codes: 709
Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut area codes: 867
New Hampshire area codes: 603
Vermont area codes: 802
Maine area codes: 207

Coordinates: 52°23′02″N 74°50′46″W / 52.384°N 74.846°W / 52.384; -74.846