While many recognize Manitoba’s main area codes of 204 and 431, the lesser-known 640 also plays a key role in the province’s telephone network. Introduced in 2012, this vital area code helps power communications for millions of residents and businesses in northern Manitoba.
In this deep dive, we’ll unpack the 640 area code – from the history of its creation to its role and geographical boundaries today. Whether you’re a local or just visiting Manitoba, understanding 640 will give you insight into this essential piece of telephonic infrastructure.
Origins of the 640 Area Code
Back in 2009, regulators determined that Manitoba would likely exhaust its inventory of assignable phone numbers under the 204/431 area codes within the next five years.
A new area code would be needed to meet growing demand.
The Telecommunications Alliance, representing Manitoba’s major phone providers, petitioned for relief. After evaluating proposals, it was decided to create an additional area code rather than a complex and costly overlay.
And so in 2012, the new 640 area code was born covering Northern Manitoba off a split from 204 and 431.
Like Alberta’s 780 and British Columbia’s 250, 640 was Manitoba’s first new area code in 60 years and only its third overall. This demonstrated the longevity and scalability of Canada’s Numbering Plan Area (NPA) system.
Where is 640 Used in Manitoba?
The 640 area code covers Northern Manitoba, defined as the region north of the 53rd parallel from the Saskatchewan border to the Ontario border.
Major cities and towns contained within the 640 zone include Thompson, Flin Flon, The Pas, Snow Lake, Norway House, Churchill and many more.
Essentially, 640 blankets all Manitoba territory above the more populated southcentral and southeastern regions anchored by Winnipeg, Brandon, Steinbach and Portage la Prairie.
640 joins Manitoba’s other primary area codes:
- 204 – Winnipeg and southeastern Manitoba
- 431 – Winnipeg and southeastern Manitoba (overlay for 204)
- 807 – Small section of northwestern Manitoba
So in summary, the 640 area code provides number allocation and telephone service specifically for Northern Manitoba as the province’s population and economy grow.
Why was 640 Chosen?
All Canadian area codes are assigned by the Canadian Numbering Administrator based on need and available number blocks.
Manitoba’s Telecommunications Alliance petitioned for a new area code labeling it an “urgent need.”
The 640 code was chosen based on the criteria of an unused 3-digit NPA number that met Canada’s dialing plan standards.
640 fit within the existing Numbering Plan Area framework for Canada, which uses NPA codes from 200 to 999. It also enabled easier adoption by modifying existing network switches.
Fun fact – 640 is also Saskatchewan’s area code assigned for rural areas and the provincial north. So it extends logical numbering across Manitoba’s western border.
How are 640 Numbers Assigned?
Within the 640 area, blocks of 10,000 numbers are allocated by the Canadian Numbering Administrator (CNA) to local telephone companies like MTS and Rogers operating in Northern Manitoba.
These providers request additional prefixes as needed when they begin to exhaust their available number inventory.
The CNA manages this prefix assignment process, ensuring coordinated and efficient allocation to avoid stranding numbers while meeting growth needs.
Individual customers then receive their unique phone numbers when signing up for service with these local carriers throughout the 640 region.
Interesting Facts About 640
As one of Canada’s newer area codes, 640 has some fascinating quirks:
- It is the first area code in Manitoba besides 204 since 1947.
- Despite initial projections, 640 still hasn’t run out of assignable numbers, while 204/431 remains exhausted.
- It is the only Canadian area code that starts with 6. Most start with 2, 4 or 7.
- Churchill is the only Canadian city fully contained within 640. Most cities and towns straddle two codes.
- Flin Flon spans three provinces and two area codes – Manitoba’s 640, Saskatchewan’s 306, and 204 in northeastern corner.
So in summary, the relatively young 640 helps power Northern Manitoba’s connections and business operations. This essential area code keeps the region linked into the broader provincial and national landscape.