Friday, March 30, 2007

Comoros & Mayotte Telephone Codes

For telecom trivia freaks, today, 2007-03-30, is a red-letter day, because something that I believe is completely without precedent happened today in the Indian Ocean islands off the east coast of Africa. The Comoro Archipelago consists of four major islands; three of them form the Union of the Comoros (Udzima wa Komori or اتحاد القمر). The fourth island, Mayotte, forms the French Departmental Collectivity of Mayotte. When the Union of the Comoros declared independence from France in 1975, the citizens of Mayotte opted to stick with France as an overseas territory. The Comoros still claim Mayotte, since the four islands were governed as a single territory prior to independence, but the people of Mayotte overwhelmingly reject any suggestion that they should be "liberated" from French "colonialism"; indeed, Mayotte is now moving towards becoming an overseas département.

The telecom part of the equation has to do with the telephone country codes. Up until yesterday, Mayotte shared the +269 country code (i.e., 011–269–xxxxx from the U.S.) with the Union of the Comoros. If the next digit is a 3 or a 7, the number is in the Comoros; numbers beginning with 2 and 6 were in Mayotte. Starting today, though, Mayotte shares the +262 code with the nearby French overseas département of Réunion Island.

Fixed (landline) numbers in Mayotte were changed from +269–xxxxxx to +262–269–xxxxxx; mobile (cellular) numbers changed from +269–xxxxxx to +262–639–xxxxxx. Callers within metropolitan France and other French DOM-TOMs can now dial Mayotte as 0269.xx.xx.xx (landlines) or 0639.xx.xx.xx (mobiles).

The unprecedented aspect is that this is, to my knowledge, the first time that any territory has split off from one country code to merge with another existing code. There have been cases in which a territory splits off to form a new code, and cases in which an entire country code merges into an existing code, but Mayotte is the first-ever realignment of country codes.

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