The main area code, 418, was one of the original area codes created in 1947. Originally, its boundaries were depicted as generally the eastern half of Quebec. However, in 1957, northwestern Quebec--one of the few areas of North America without telephone service--was shifted to 418 from 514. From the 1950s to the 1970s, 418 was also nominally the area code for the eastern Northwest Territories. However, in the 1970s, when direct distance dialing was introduced to the far northern and western portions of 418, these areas were shifted to area code 819, leaving the present area.
In 2008, area code 581 was implemented as an overlay after 418 came close to exhaustion.
The incumbent local exchange carriers in 418/581 are Bell Canada, Telus (formerly Quebec-Telephone) and Vidéotron, plus some independent companies.