Alberta may need a new area code sooner than expected, as the booming economy attracts more people and the demand for service rises, a Telus spokesman says.

The Canadian Numbering Administration, which assigns area codes, reportedearlier this year that Alberta's area codes — 403 and 780— would be exhausted within seven years.

But Telus phone company spokesman Jim Johannson said Saturday that Alberta's booming economy is moving up that timetable.

Workers have beenflooding into the province —there were more than 95,000 new residentsbetween April 2005 and April 2006—andmost people have more than one or two numbers now, he noted.

"If we look back, say 15 years ago, most people might have a work phone number and a home phone number," he said. "Now we're looking at most people would have a work phone number, a home phone number and a cellphone number, so now we're looking at two to three numbers."

As well, he said, more telecommunications companies are operating in Alberta, including voice-over-internet protocol and cellphone providers, resulting in a crunch for available numbers.

Alberta's first area code—403— served the province for more than 70 years. The 780prefix was added for the northern half of the province in 1999.

Johannson said it may still take at least a year before a decision is made about whether the province will get a new area code.

He said the Canadian Numbering Administration may also consider overlaying numbers, which would mean users would have to dial an area code before the phone number in the more populated areas of the province. Toronto and Vancouver already have 10-digit dialing.