Need to make a call? Facts about telephone service in MB

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The telephone is one of the best ways of getting information and connecting with other people. A mobile/smart phone or a landline should be one of the first things you should get after arriving in Manitoba. You will need a phone to look for a house, a job, or registering for settlement programs, knowing your way around, and asking for information about goods and services.

Here are a few facts and tips about telephone service in MB:

Phone basics

  1. 10 digits – Most Canadian numbers have 10 digits, for example 204-946-5140. The first three numbers form the area code. Manitoba’s area code is 204, 431, and 584 (although 204 is more common). Each region in Canada has a different area code with three digits.
  2. Local calls – These are calls made within the city or rural district you are in.
  3. Long-distance calls – These are calls to a number outside your city or rural district within Canada (and even the United States). Any call outside your geographical area is considered a long-distance call even if you share the same area code (e.g., a call from Winnipeg to Brandon). To make a long-distance call to a number in Canada, dial 1 + area code + number. These calls may have additional charges depending on your telephone plan.
  4. International long-distance calls – Need to call your home country? You need to dial 011 (this is the exit code) + the country code + the area code + the number. To find out country codes and area codes within other countries, go to: Country or check the first pages of a telephone book. You can also dial “0” for the operator and place your call.
  5. Toll-free calls – Any phone number that begins with 1-800, 1-866, 1-877 or 1-888 are toll-free. You will not be charged when you use a toll-free number. Dial all the digits when making the call.
  6. Automatic answering service – Many establishments use automated answering systems when receiving calls. These recorded messages give instructions on how to get information or reach the appropriate person. It may give you options which you can select by pressing a number or symbols like the pound (#) or star (*) key. You may also leave a message if the person you’re calling is not available. You may be asked to leave your name, number, and a short message which you can provide after a beeping sound.

Types of telephone service

You can avail of a fixed-line telephone (also called a landline or home phone) or a cellular phone (mobile phone or smartphone). Nowadays, each family member has their own mobile phone, making a family landline unnecessary. Service plans are available from telecommunications companies like Bell, Rogers, or Telus. You’ll also see names like Fido, Koodo, or Virgin. Phone plans are usually bundled with internet service as well as TV plans. It can even come with entertainment streaming services like Netflix, Disney, and others.

These plans usually require you to sign up for a service contract with a fixed duration (for example, a one-year plan) and allow you to call/talk, text, and use Internet data. The prices vary depending on the number (or duration) of calls and texts as well as the amount and speed of internet data that you need.

If you don’t want to be tied to a plan, you can buy a mobile phone and use prepaid cards at stores.

You may be asked for identification and proof of employment. They can also request a credit check. If you don’t have a job or credit history yet, inform them that you are a new immigrant. Companies usually offer special plans or bundles that will fit your needs.

Shopping for plans

It is important to know your needs and priorities to be able to get the most cost-effective telephone plan. There are so many kinds of services and combinations of these services in the market today. It can get confusing! They may offer limited minutes or unlimited calls, limited or unlimited data (for internet-enabled phones or smartphones), province-wide or country-wide calls, roaming services (if you need to use your phone when in another country), and others.

Take time to compare plans and ask your friends for recommendations before you commit. Read Cellphones in the Canadian Consumer Handbook to guide you in making your decision.
Article updated March 14, 2024.
Sources: Welcome to Canada, what you should know, IRCC (CIC); and Canadian Consumer Handbook. Accessed November 15, 2018.

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