Tbaytel preparing customers for switch to 10-digit dialing

Thunder Bay, Ont. — Cellphone users with the 807 area code who use Tbaytel will transition to 10-digit dialing on April 1 to comply with a Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) mandate.

This means the area code must be dialed along with the phone number.

“The CRTC announced that it was going to bring forward 988, a new national three-digit number for mental health and suicide prevention that is going to launch in November of 2023,” said Jamie Smith, communication co-ordinator for Tbaytel.

“In tandem with that, they mandated 10-digit dialing for any area code remaining in Canada that still hadn’t implemented that, and 807 is one of those area codes that yet needs to change.”

The 10-digit dialing does not apply to landline phone users, yet.

“We’re taking a phased approach,” Smith said. “The date of change for landline customers will start in the fall and will be fully implemented sometime in early 2024.”

The CRTC mandate incorporates all service providers, but Smith noted that the April 1 transition to 10-digit dialing is for Tbaytel customers.

Other service providers may make the switch on different dates.

Smith explained that there are phone numbers that begin with the exchange 988 which, by itself, will be the national emergency number for mental health and suicide prevention. It is similar to the 911 emergency response number.

For example, Smith says if you dial the seven-digit number 988-1234, the call will go to the emergency 988 system. To alleviate accidental callers to the new 988 exchange, the 10-digit system has already been implemented in many parts of Canada.

“In terms of home and business security systems, it’s possible that some systems might not be able to connect properly because the area code is not there,” he noted. “For our customers, we’re going to make sure that everyone is 10-digit ready and for the vast majority we should be able to do it remotely, so it won’t require too much from the customer. In some cases, we might have to go on-site and reprogram the numbers so that it’s 10-digit ready.”

Smith added that this is only for security systems that still operate over a phone line. A vast majority of our security systems now operate over the internet, so they won’t be impacted by 10-digit dialing at all.

“We will send out letters to our security customers who might be impacted that they might be getting a visit from one of our representatives perhaps in the coming months to make sure that their system was going to be fully operational when this change goes into place,” he said.

Tbaytel customers can expect a public awareness campaign beginning next week to let people know that this change is coming and what to expect.

Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal