What’s in a number? New area code in the works for Manitoba

Move over 204 and 431, there’s a new area code coming to Manitoba.

While it isn’t expected to actually come into effect for another few years, the wheels are in motion to have a third area code join the province’s current two sets of three-digit combinations needed to complete a phone call.

So what are our new digits?

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Kelly Walsh, program manager with the Canadian Numbering Administrator (CNA), the organization mandated to keep track of such things, says we are more than likely going to end up with the area code 584 when the final decision is made.

“I fully expect it to be 584 — and it’s highly unlikely that it won’t be — but the (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) has the last word,” Walsh told Global News Morning Winnipeg Friday.

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“This, of course, needs to go through the whole process — Manitoba is just at the beginning.”

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They don’t just hand out area codes all willy-nilly, it seems.

Walsh explains the whole process started when the CNA conducted what’s called a “numbering forecast” on Manitoba’s telephone system and found the province can expect to run out of combinations of telephone numbers under our currently two area codes by 2024.

The CNA took their findings to the CRTC, which last month struck a committee to start planning how to bring the new area code to the province familiarly known as the 204.

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Walsh says the 584 area code had already been set aside for Manitoba, and the approval process should be complete by the time the province runs out of numbers.

“In 2017 the steering committee on numbering, they submitted a report that recommended, for the next 10 year period, that certain area codes be used in certain areas,” he said.

“It’s a benefit to the telephone service providers that they’re aware of these numbers ahead of time as it’s quite costly to implement these numbers.

A map of Canada\’s current area codes. Submitted/Canadian Number Administrator

“If they’re well aware of it ahead of time they can implement it and reduce cost and such.”

But what if you don’t want a new area code?

Walsh said just because there’s new digits on the block, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to put them in front of your number.

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He said old favourites like 204 and 431 will still come on the market when people move or change phone numbers.

“There are subscribers that leave service providers, and they may leave behind their number instead of porting it out, and they may have some (old) numbers available in that case,” he said.

“Your best bet is to try your service provider or search around for one that still has some numbers left that you want.”

— With files from Gabrielle Marchand

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