In 2001, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued a public notice advising that telephone numbers in the area codes 613 and 819 would soon be depleted and proposing possible methods of dealing with the problem. The area codes cover the national capital and a large

portion of eastern Ontario and western and northern Quebec.

According to industry experts, they would soon exhaust resources to meet the demand for all the telephone numbers for these areas. This is not an uncommon problem in light of the growing demand for telecommunications services, where multiple lines are common in residential as well as business sectors. Areas like the

Greater Toronto Area have already dealt with this issue. In August 2004, the CRTC finally issued the final version of the relief plan for 613 and 819.

In the initial process in 2001, the commission decided that by the fourth quarter of 2004, 10-digit calling would be introduced in the 613 and 819 areas. It also approved the addition of a new area code to be in place by the third quarter of 2008, using distributed overlay methods. The commission also ordered the development of a consumer awareness program to inform customers of the changes being planned.

Demand for phone numbers rises

The Relief Planning Committee (RPC) had made these recommendations prior to the 2001 public notice.

In November 2002, the RPC requested a deferral of the relief dates proposed by the commission, because the forecast demand for numbers in 613 and 819 area codes had changed to the point that the supply of numbers would not run out until much later than initially predicted. But since 2003, the demand for phone numbers is again on the rise. The commission therefore has concluded that it would be appropriate to implement a relief plan that targets the phasing in of permissive 10-digit calling by June 2006. Mandatory 10-digit calling would come into play by October 2006.

The CRTC believes that the success of any implementation plan is closely tied to awareness programs. They have ordered the RPC to develop one announcement to be used by all telcos during the mandatory 10-digit local dialling period to be filed with them prior to implementation. If the trend continues, 10-digit calling will become the norm throughout North America.

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