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Wanna Get A 514 Number After Montreal Gets A New Area Code? Here's How It Works

Yes, you'll still be able to get a 514 number. No, it might not be easy.

Senior Editor
Wanna Get A 514 Number After Montreal Gets A New Area Code? Here's How It Works

Montreal is getting a new area code. In October 2022, 263 will join 438 and the iconic 514 in the (metaphorical) phone books.

In a news release, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said the new three-digit prefix was necessary to relieve the two existing codes, which were on track to exhaust by 2024.

So what are your chances of nabbing a 514 area code?

Well, it's hard to say exactly, according to Kelly Walsh, program manager for the Canadian Numbering Administrator (CNA), the entity that manages telephone number distribution.

"A telephone number is a 10-digit number. The first three are the area code. The second three are what we call the central office code or the CO code. And then the last four is the line number," Walsh explained.

"What gets assigned are the central office codes, and there are approximately 790 central office codes in every area code."

"If you break that down to each one of those CO codes having about 10,000 numbers, there's about 7.9 million numbers in an area code."

The CNA is responsible for distributing CO codes to telephone companies. Those companies then provide customers with line numbers, the last four digits, according to their own systems.

The CNA also offers forecasts on phone number inventories.

"We do this at a minimum annually, and all the TSPs [telecommunications service providers] in any given — what we call an 'area code complex' — give in their forecast for the next six years. And then we use an approved methodology to predict it out to 20 years," Walsh explained.

"We determine when a particular complex is going to exhaust based on the numbers that they say they're going to ask for."

Area code assignment, meanwhile, actually follows a continent-wide scheme — the North American Number Plan.

"There are 20 countries that are a part of that," Walsh said. "There are a bunch of Caribbean ones who only have one area code. Canada and the United States obviously are the largest consumers of codes."

"Canada requested at some point a bunch of numbers in there, and we have what are called a reservation pool for geographic area codes."

That includes the Montreal area's new 263 sequence, which, Walsh said, will be Canada's 47th area code.

But those assignments aren't random.

Walsh explained that the Canadian Steering Committee on Numbering looks at this pool and analyzes which codes would be the best fit for a particular area that needs relief.

"There are some restrictions on the numbers," he said. For example, "You don't want numbers that are too alike within a complex."

As for numbers left in the 514 area code, Walsh confirmed that all its CO codes — the middle three digits — have been assigned.

Meanwhile, there were 268 CO codes still available for Montreal's other existing area code, 438.

But that doesn't mean you won't be able to get a 514 number.

Service providers with CO codes could still assign line numbers to create a new 514 number.

Companies can also recycle phone numbers once their original holders give them up.

So, yes, there are still 514 numbers for grabs out there. But Walsh suggested you shouldn't hold your breath.

"You could get one, but it's very, very unlikely."

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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