“Beginning today, Feb. 25, customers who are dialing seven digits when placing local calls will hear a recording that is going to indicate to them that 10-digit dialing is on the way,” said Tara Tibeau, manager of external communications for SaskTel.
Starting May 11, phone calls with only seven digits dialed will no longer go through. That’s because the province will implement a new area code, 639, on May 25.
According to Tibeau, the new area code is not based on a geographic division and will only be assigned to new phone customers.
That’s not to say all of the new numbers will be accompanied by the area code of 639, because customers who cancel their subscriptions and own existing 306 numbers will have their numbers recycled back into the pool of phone numbers to be assigned.
“It’s actually quite a positive indication of growth in the province,” Tibeau said. “We’re running out of the 306 numbers as the population continues to grow.”
However, there has been some pushback from the public, despite the new area code being a requirement set out by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
“For the most part, the public has been very positive, receptive and understanding,” Tibeau said. “I have heard some discussion as to the implementation method and whether or not people are happy with the overlay methodology, which was used.”
The overlay methodology Tibeau is referencing has to do with having to dial three extra numbers to complete each call and that the new area code will not be implemented as a geographic split.
But simply attributing the new area code to new phone numbers is a lot less troublesome than having customers change their numbers based on geographic location, Tibeau said.
“One of the positive things with a (geographic split) is that you do have a clear differentiation of where you’re calling. However, there are negatives to doing that,” she said. “A significant amount of people would have to change their number right away.”
The only real negative Tibeau could identify with 10-digit dialing is customers will have to edit their speed-dial numbers, reconfigure their fax machines and make other adjustments to systems that use pre-programmed numbers.
“Without adding those digits into all of your pre-programmed stuff, the call may not work,” she said. “A lot of security systems use callouts — for instance, if an alarm is triggered, it calls somewhere — so you’d have to add the area code into that and anything where you have a pre-programmed number.”
Emergency and special numbers such as 9-1-1, 4-1-1 and 6-1-1 will not change.