FUTURE TRAINING CONTINUES
You must have noticed the new training program we are going
through -- albeit unconsciously. Postal addresses in alpha-numeric
symbols, for example. Higher phone numbers are coming soon.
Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corporation (NTT), the world's
largest corporation (twice the size of IBM, General Motors and AT&T
combined) recently announced that all phones in greater Tokyo all
(which includes 26 cities, six towns and nine villages) will have
four-digit exchange numbers, by January 1, 1991. One more than the
present three we dial here in Canada.
If you think Tokyo has made another first you're wrong: That claim
to fame has already gone to Paris. For Tokyo this is the first such
change of exchange numbers in 31 years. In 1960 they changed from two
digits to three.
As the communications age blossomed in Japan, with the explosion
in the increased use of facsimile (some Japanese offices actually fax
mail across the same office floor -- almost all fax upstairs or
downstairs) and microcomputer communications as well as normal voice
telephone lines, something had to give in this cutting-edge metropolis. Four digit exchange numbers was obviously the way to go. An
earlier crunch that happened to pocket pagers was the first indication of a coming trend: pagers went from 3 digit in February 1987.
In 1988 new telephone subscribers in areas suffering from a shortage
of new phone exchanges started to be assigned four-digit phones. The
new step is a continuation of the trend. (example: Present No. 03
(Tokyo) /123-4567 converts to: 03-3123-4567). It goes into effect at
2:00 a.m. January 1, 1991, but only in Tokyo. Expect it here
It doesn't end there. NTT expects a shortage of four-digit
exchange numbers by early 1991 in rapidly-growing (in telephone
demand) areas. They are already working on that. Note how they
anticipate problems way ahead of actual crisis. In North America
crisis is often only recognized when confirmed by disaster. Japan
knows that progress in an advanced information society requires
superior communications facilities as the standard.
You are used to changing the clock twice a year going from winter
into daylight savings time and the reverse in the springtime. Get
ready to see phone numbers (or cable numbers) grow as coming decades
introduce more and more communications equipment.
* * *
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