Jamaica may need another area code within five years - Wheatley
Even though the demand for telephone numbers is not specifically tied to population size, the rapid expansion of the information and communications technology (ITC) sector could make it necessary to receive another area code as quickly as in five years.
That's the view of Dr Andrew Wheatley, minister of science, energy and technology, who spoke at a media workshop put on by the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) to answer questions on Jamaica's newest area code, '658', and 10-digit dialling.
"The OUR is projecting that this new area code will be able to last at least 10 years, but it was also envisioned in 1990, when we got the 876 code, that it would have lasted 20 years. But after 12 years, it became apparent that we would need to start the application process for a new area code," Wheatley said.
He noted that the rate at which technology was evolving and the way that Jamaicans were embracing new technologies, particularly in the ICT sector, meant that the projections for a 10-year spread were, at best, dubious.
However, OUR Director General Ansord Hewitt says that based on empirical data, the new area code should last at least a decade. According to Hewitt, the demand for new numbers made it necessary for the new area code, and the Government has offered 12 mobile virtual network operators licences, which significantly increases the potential demand for numbers.
The additional telephone area code (658) for Jamaica will provide more than seven million additional numbers, making Jamaica the first English-speaking country to initiate a national 10-digit dialling system.