Fri | Feb 21, 2020

Mandatory 10-digit dialling takes effect March 31

Published:Tuesday | March 26, 2019 | 12:16 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Bennett Marsh
Bennett Marsh
Mandatory 10-digit dialling takes effect March 31.

Having extended the period of permissive dialling by five months ending March 30, 2019, 10-digit dialling will be mandatory as of March 31, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has confirmed.

The extension was granted following requests from service providers and some of their large business customers to address challenges relating to systems employing machine-to-machine communications and PBX telephone systems.

Elizabeth Bennett Marsh, public education specialist at the OUR, explained that extension was granted to allow businesses time to augment their systems, including for critical sectors.

“The challenges included budgetary constraints prohibiting the timely replacement of affected equipment and the length of time needed to reconfigure thousands of point-of-sale and alarm systems. Affected customers include hospitals, hotels, security companies and some major government entities,” Bennett Marsh said.

She said, however, that the major issues have been addressed and mandatory 10-digit dialling will now be implemented.

This means that as of March 31, if only the seven-digit telephone number is dialled, the call will not be completed and the caller will instead hear the following message from the telecoms provider: “Mandatory 10-digit dialling is now in effect for all local calls. Please hang up and redial using the area code plus the seven-digit number. This is a message from (FLOW/Digicel, etc.).”

Bennett Marsh said that all systems and devices used to dial 10-digit telephone numbers were to be updated (where required) during the 10-month permissive dialling period, which ends on March 30, to accommodate the dialling change.

These include alarms, safety systems, PBXs, fax machines, speed diallers, auto-diallers, calling lists, and outdialling lists on computers – that are equipped for, or facilitate, outward calling.

She said that the OUR wishes to make it clear that mandatory 10-digit dialling is not intended to alter or replace any existing special arrangements or agreements that customers have with their service providers for the handling or treatment of incoming calls.

On May 30, 2018, a new area code, 658, was implemented in Jamaica to augment the supply of numbers provided under the existing area code 876. This made it necessary to introduce mandatory 10-digit dialling for all local calls.