ARCHIVED - Order CRTC 2001-841

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Order CRTC 2001-841


Ottawa, 28 November 2001


CRTC issues relief plans for area codes 613 and 819


Reference: 8698-C12-16/01




The supply of telephone numbers is rapidly diminishing in area codes 613 and 819, which serve a large portion of eastern Ontario and western Quebec, respectively, including the national capital region of Ottawa, Ontario, and Hull, Quebec. Following a public proceeding to review possible solutions to this situation, the Commission issues a number of determinations on specific activities that must take place.


The Commission orders that, with a limited number of exceptions, central office code protection will be removed in area codes 613 and 819 during the fourth quarter of 2004. At that time, local 10-digit dialing will be introduced. The Commission also approves a recommendation to add a new area code using the distributed overlay method for area code 613 during the third quarter of 2008.


In addition, the Commission orders the development of comprehensive consumer awareness programs for both phases of the relief process for area codes 613 and 819.




The 613 and 819 area codes are somewhat unique in Canada because the local calling area in the region of Ottawa, Ontario, and Hull, Quebec, overlaps two provinces and two area codes. From a network operations perspective, Bell Canada, the incumbent local exchange carrier, has established the Ottawa-Hull area as a single exchange. To permit seven-digit local dialing within this exchange and between the two area codes, many central office (CO) codes are "protected" from assignment in the other area code. For example, if CO code 776 is assigned in 819 (Hull), it is not available to be assigned in 613 (Ottawa) and vice versa.


As of 1 January 2001, there were 64 protected codes in area code 613, and 131 protected codes in area code 819.


There are also special routing arrangements in this exchange to help direct calls from across the country to government offices in the national capital area, which consists of the Ottawa and Hull, Quebec regions. To ensure the accurate routing of toll calls, the six
CO codes assigned to the federal government in area code 819 (in Hull) are"dual-dialable": that is, long-distance calls to government numbers in Hull that are dialed using either area code 613 or 819 will reach the proper government office in Hull.


In July 2000, Science Applications International Corporation Canada, in its role as the Canadian Numbering Administrator, announced that area codes 613 and 819 were projected to exhaust within five years. The Canadian Numbering Administrator also asked service providers to submit the necessary information to complete a detailed survey of the anticipated assignment of CO codes in these area codes.


At that time, it was projected that area code 819 would exhaust in early 2005 and area code 613 would exhaust by early 2006.


On 5 February 2001, the Commission issued Public Notice CRTC 2001-20, Establishment of a CISC ad hoc committee for area code relief planning in area codes 613 and 819. In this public notice, the Commission invited interested parties to participate in the ad hoc committee's public meetings to identify solutions to the area code exhaust situation. The Commission also distributed an information bulletin to municipal governments in the regions served by area codes 613 and 819.


During the course of the public meetings, the committee developed a consensus-planning document, which included an analysis of all the options that the committee identified to provide relief for the exhaust of area codes 613 and 819. On 30 May 2001, the CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee (CISC) accepted the planning document from the ad hoc committee and adopted it as its consensus recommendations.


The planning document contained three recommendations:


· the protection of CO codes used to allow seven-digit local dialing between 613 and 819 should end during the fourth quarter of 2005. At that time, 10-digit local dialing between 613 and 819 would replace seven-digit local dialing.


· a new area code should be added as a distributed overlay of 613. The addition of the new area code should tentatively be scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2009.


· no area code should be added in the 819 region at this time since the removal of code protection would delay the exhaust of area code 819 for approximately 20 years. Local seven-digit dialing within 819 should be retained.


On 18 June 2001, the Commission issued Public Notice CRTC 2001-71, Providing relief for the diminishing supply of telephone numbers in area codes 613 and 819, to seek public input on these consensus recommendations. Comments were filed by 8 August 2001, and reply comments by 22 August 2001.


Comments received in response to PN 2001-71


The Commission received comments from five consumers and four industry representatives. All the industry representatives supported the recommendations of the CISC committee as described above. Consumers supported approaches that differed from the CISC committee consensus. For example, one consumer supported the recommendation to overlay 613, but suggested its immediate implementation.


Another consumer filed extensive comments to emphasize the importance of an area code's geographic identity. This consumer supported a suggestion to split 613 along the boundaries of the new City of Ottawa and to add a new area code to the region that is outside the new city boundaries, but within the current 613 boundaries.


Reply comments from industry representatives focused mainly on the geographic split approach. They noted that, in general, any benefits resulting from an area code split would be outweighed by increased costs as well as the disruption to customers, who would need to change their telephone numbers.


In addition to the CO codes that are protected in Ottawa and Hull, there are other CO codes (11 in 819 and two in 613) that are protected to permit seven-digit local dialing between other cities in 613 and 819, and other neighbouring area codes (e.g., 705, 450). The CISC recommendation to remove code protection did not include these codes. CISC recommended removing CO code protection only from those CO codes that are used to maintain seven-digit local dialing between Ottawa and Hull.


The Commission considers that removing CO code protection throughout 613 and 819 would push back the projected exhaust of 819 by 20 years and the projected exhaust of 613 by two years, based on current forecasts of the demand for CO codes.


In the Commission's view, it is likely that full removal of CO code protection would also reduce consumer confusion. Removing protection from all CO codes in both area codes would result in 10-digit local dialing across both area codes, and to and from adjacent area codes. As a result, communicating changes to consumers would consist of a simple message to inform them that local calls will soon require 10-digit dialing. The removal of CO code protection to the limited degree that CISC suggested would require a complex plan to communicate the changes to different sets of consumers within the two area codes. For example, consumers in some areas would still make local calls by dialing only seven digits; others would have to make local calls by dialing 10 digits.


The Commission considers that one exception should remain: retaining CO code protection for government CO codes in Hull that are dual-dialable.


The Commission is of the view that, while removing code protection for these dual-dialable CO codes would slightly defer the future exhaust of 613 (by almost three months), it would cause unwarranted confusion for people calling government offices in Ottawa/Hull from across the country. The Commission notes that callers in the rest of Canada may not know in which city the government office they are calling is located; they may not be aware of these dialing changes; and they would not hear the local permissive dialing announcement. Therefore, the Commission believes that it is in the public interest to maintain the dual-dialable codes in order to ensure nation-wide access to government offices in Ottawa/Hull.


To ensure the proper routing and rating of calls, the single Ottawa/Hull exchange would have to be split in two along the current 819/613 boundary at or before the removal of CO code protection.




If CO code protection is not removed, 819 will exhaust before 613. Therefore, to establish a date for the removal of CO code protection, the "trigger" by which time relief must be introduced is the 819 exhaust date.


The Canadian Numbering Administrator conducted two surveys of 613 and 819 to help forecast when the telephone numbers in these area codes would all be exhausted. The first such survey, in August 2000, was based on demand forecasts for each exchange in these area codes at that time. The second survey was conducted as part of the annual study of all Canadian area codes in February 2001. In general, the second survey indicates exhaust will occur later than the first survey suggested. However, this second, more general survey is only based on aggregated data for each area code as a whole; it does not provide the same level of detail as the first survey.


The Commission notes that, while the two surveys were conducted only six months apart, they project significantly different exhaust dates.


The Commission is of the view that there is a risk of insufficient availability of numbering resources if the later exhaust date is used as a basis for taking action. The Commission considers that the most prudent course would be to average the two projected 819 exhaust dates, and sets the first quarter of 2006 as the exhaust date for planning purposes. Consistent with area code relief planning guidelines, the Commission establishes a date to remove CO code protection 15 months prior to the exhaust date. Accordingly, the Commission directs that the following action takes place in the fourth quarter of 2004:


· all CO code protection, except that applicable to the six dual-dialable CO codes in 819, will be removed; and


· the Ottawa-Hull exchange will be split into two separate exchanges along the 613/819 boundary, before or at the same time as the fourth quarter of 2004 removal of CO code protection.


Ten-digit dialing


From a technical perspective, the removal of CO code protection, as recommended above, requires introducing 10-digit local dialing at least between area codes. However, seven-digit dialing could be retained for local calls placed within each area code until a new area code is introduced.


During this proceeding, comments indicated that customers generally preferred to keep seven-digit local dialing. In addition, the CISC committee recommended keeping seven-digit local dialing for calls within both 819 and 613 until a new area code is added.


However, in Order CRTC 2000-786, New area code overlay to be introduced in 604 region, dated 16 August 2000, the Commission concluded that, coincident with area code relief, it would be appropriate to introduce 10-digit local dialing throughout 604. The Commission considered that this would be consistent with the movement toward 10-digit dialing throughout the North American numbering plan area. Accordingly, the Commission mandated 10-digit local dialing in 604, as it did in 905 and 416 where new area codes have been added.


In this instance, the Commission considers the removal of CO code protection to be another method to provide area code relief, as it extends the life of area code 819 by many years. Accordingly, it provides the conditions for the introduction of 10-digit local dialing throughout the two area codes as has been done in earlier cases.


Permissive dialing


Permissive dialing allows local calls to be completed whether they are dialed using seven- or 10-digits for a specific period of time. The Commission notes that recent area code relief experience has shown that where customers are unfamiliar with 10-digit local dialing, a longer permissive dialing period is essential to ensure a smooth transition. In addition, service providers can only change and test certain equipment and make other modifications during the permissive dialing period. A longer period also provides customers with more time to complete and test any changes to equipment (e.g. private branch exchange equipment, modems, call forward, speed dial, etc.) before 10-digit dialing becomes mandatory.


Further, the Commission notes that during the permissive dialing period, all service providers will offer a clear and consistent network announcement to remind customers about the change from seven- to 10-digit dialing. Callers will hear this announcement just before a call is completed.


The Commission directs:


· the introduction of 10-digit local calling for all local calls from, to and within area codes 613 and 819 by the fourth quarter of 2004, coincident with the removal of CO code protection; and


· the implementation of a permissive dialing period of four months prior to the removal of CO code protection and the mandatory introduction of 10-digit local dialing.


Adding a new area code


Given that the removal of CO code protection would add almost 20 years to the life of area code 819, the Commission agrees with the CISC committee recommendation that no plans should be developed to add a new area code to the 819 region at this time.


Both the CISC committee and parties that responded to PN 2001-71 confirmed the need for additional relief planning for 613 after the removal of CO code protection. Some parties emphasized the importance of knowing the relief method and date as soon as possible. This would provide them with the time to make plans and set budgets for their relief activities. The Commission agrees with these assessments.


For the purposes of adding an area code to 613, the CISC committee looked at the possibility of splitting the Ottawa/Hull exchange along the following boundaries:


· Ottawa exchange;


· Ottawa extended-area service; and


· exchanges within the new City of Ottawa municipal boundaries.


Mr. Miguelez, a consumer who responded to PN 2001-71, favoured the use of the new City of Ottawa boundary for a split of 613. He also indicated that this would be the most appropriate boundary to use in a concentrated overlay.


However, the CISC committee rejected using the City of Ottawa boundary in either a split or a concentrated overlay because the boundary does not coincide with the existing telephone company exchange boundaries. Therefore, a split or concentrated overlay would be much more expensive to implement.


Three relief methods


The Commission considered three relief methods examined by the CISC committee that it deemed to warrant further consideration:


· area code split using the "new City of Ottawa" boundary - 613 would be split into two parts. The "new City of Ottawa" portion would retain 613 and the area outside the city boundaries would be assigned a new area code;


· concentrated overlay using the "new City of Ottawa" boundary - CO codes from a new area code become available in exchanges within the "new City of Ottawa"; and


· distributed overlay of all exchanges in 613 - CO codes from a new area code become available in all exchanges within 613.


The primary benefit of a split for consumers is the possibility of maintaining seven-digit local dialing within the newly defined area codes. In addition, Mr. Miguelez argued that an even greater benefit to retaining seven-digit dialing would be the enhanced geographic association of the area code with the new City of Ottawa.


However, a split would involve telephone number changes for between 1.1 and 1.5 million customers, and some 150,000 wireless handsets would have to be reprogrammed.


The major concern identified with an overlay is the need for 10-digit local dialing. The Commission notes that the transition to this type of dialing was relatively smooth for customers in recent 416 and 905 relief situations because there was considerable prior exposure to 10-digit local dialing. However, in 604, there was little prior exposure, which resulted in a significant degree of both consumer resistance and confusion.


The Commission considers that, on balance, an area code split would be too onerous for users, particularly given the need to change so many telephone numbers.




On balance, the Commission finds that it would be appropriate to implement a distributed overlay solution for 613.


With respect to timing, the Commission considers that the most prudent course would be to average the two projected 613 exhaust dates. Therefore, the Commission sets the exhaust date for planning purposes as the fourth quarter of 2009.


The Commission directs the implementation of a distributed overlay for 613 in the third quarter of 2008.


Consistent with earlier orders on area code relief, the Commission directs the CISC ad hoc committee to develop clear, comprehensive consumer awareness programs for each of the two steps of this relief process for 613 and 819.


The Commission directs the ad hoc committee to send to CISC, no later than 1 October 2002, the consumer awareness program regarding the removal of CO code protection and the introduction of 10-digit local dialing. The Commission notes that all carriers will implement 10-digit local dialing for all local calls:


· within each of 613 and 819;


· originating in each of 613 and 819 to adjacent area codes; and


· originating from adjacent area codes into each of 613 and 819.


The Commission directs the ad hoc committee to send to CISC, no later than 1 October 2006, the second consumer awareness program regarding the introduction of the new area code to 613.


Secretary General


This document is available in alternative format upon request and may also be examined at the following Internet site:

Date Modified: 2001-11-28

Date modified: