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Prestigious Area Codes (NPAs) in North America

posted Dec 15, 2015, 12:28 PM by EZvoip Co
The North American (and by that, for the rest of this article, we mean Canada and USA; sorry, Mexico, you are cool enough to stand on your own) dialing system was designed for simplicity and convenience. It helped that for most of its existence it was managed by monopolistic giants: AT&T in USA and Bell in Canada. It is only natural that the country code for both Canada and USA is "numero uno".

When area codes were first assigned, nobody could have predicted the appearance and widespread adoption of cell phones and the explosive growth in assigned numbers. With the benefit of hindsight, we now see that no matter how generous allocations seemed at the time, planners were consistently "outmaneuvered" by the reality of increasing demand. This is particularly true of large cities, where demand has caused a second, third and often a fourth area code to be allocated, often within the short span of a decade.

A game changer was the introduction of LNP or "Line Number Portability", which now allows customers to "take their numbers with them" when switching providers.

Montreal started off with 514 as one of 86 original NPAs (Numbering Plan Areas) defined in 1947. It was split in 1957 to create 819 and in 1998 to create 450. In 2006, 438 was added as an overlay to the existing 514, while 579 was added for 450. As both Bell Canada (the ILEC or incumbent carrier) as well as Videotron (the CLEC or competitive carrier) have access to a supply of numbers in the 514 area code, this area code, though oldest, is not as "prestigious" as elsewhere, although this situation might change in the future.

The situation was very different in Toronto, where the original 416 area code was supplemented by 905 for the surroundings, then 647. Bell Canada subscribers have almost exclusively been assigned area code 416, causing such phone numbers to become scarce and therefore valuable.

Here is how the Canadian press has covered this situation in Toronto:
  • 416ers are about to become more elite. Even 647ers will have a long-sought bump in prestige. 
    Hold the phone. Toronto is getting a third area code.
    On Tuesday, the CRTC announced there will be “area code relief planning” for area codes 416 and 647. Glenn Pilley, the director of the Canadian Numbering Administrator, said a new area code will be chosen this fall and on the tips of our fingers in four years.
    Across Toronto, the news was met with apprehension. Law student Steve Sharpless said the new number will be a joke. “If somebody gave me that number, I don’t know if I would put it in my phone,” he said.
    Sharpless knows area code hierarchy. He is a reluctant 647er. “I have to act like it’s cool, but really, on the inside, no one wants a 647 number. It feels like a 905 number.” (..) Pilley has more bad news. There are no cool numbers left. “The coolest one we had was 226 and it went to western Ontario,” Pilley said. “It spells CAN.”
    Honouring Highway 401 also won’t work. All area codes with a zero as the middle digit were assigned before 1994.
    Toronto joins the 905 as the latest area to get a third area code. In addition to 905 and 289 it will also use 365 by 2013. (TST, 2010)
  • I have a 416 area code and an easy to remember phone number, and would love to get some easy money selling it, but it seems sketchy to me. The star has some info on it, but the sites they link [vip416numbers and 416numbers] do not seem reputable. (redditTST, GlN, CiN all reference the same July 2014 story)
We offer 416-EXTRACT (398-7228) as a phone number to use with extensions; if you want your own number, we might be able to get one for you at extra cost, or you can get one yourself on Kijiji or Craigslist.