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Telecoms back new area code - Jamaica to implement 10-digit dialling next year

Published:Monday | August 28, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Ansord Hewitt, director general of the OUR.

Following sensitisation sessions involving public- and private-sector groups over the last six months, telecommunications companies Digicel and FLOW said there are plans to engage the wider public about the new 658 area code to be implemented in Jamaica next year, which will be in addition to the existing 876. Ten-digit dialling will also become compulsory .

In a statement yesterday, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) said come May 31, 2018, ten-digit dialling will become mandatory for local calls - that is, the three-digit area code plus the seven-digit telephone number.

"It will be used once the existing telephone numbers under the 876 area code are exhausted. However, the most immediate change will be the introduction of 10-digit dialling, for local telephone calls, come May 31, 2018," said director general of the OUR, Ansord Hewitt, emphasising that the 658 area code is not a replacement for 876.


Public education campaign


Elon Parkinson, regional communications manager at Digicel, told The Gleaner that there have been ongoing discussions with the OUR to ensure successful implementation.

"Digicel has been planning together with the OUR and other industry stakeholders the launch of a public education campaign to support implementation of an additional area code for Jamaica," he said. "In the meantime, we are ensuring technical readiness by the stipulated dates outlined by the OUR. Digicel is committed to successful implementation of the 658 area code."

Kayon Wallace, director of corporate communications and stakeholder management at FLOW, shared that, "While there are some aspects of our network that currently support 10-digit dialling, we are working on completing several critical additional upgrades that are required for the full implementation per the timeline stated. We continue to collaborate with the OUR and will ensure that all our key stakeholders are duly advised of this new requirement in a timely manner."

... Additional number necessary

The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) said it became necessary for Jamaica to get an additional numbering plan area code, commonly called an area code, as the agency, which is responsible for numbering administration in Jamaica, moves to ensure that there are sufficient numbers available to satisfy growth in demand for these resources over the next 25 years.

Under the Telecommunications Act, the OUR has full responsibility for the allocation, assignment to service providers and usage of telecommunication numbers in Jamaica.

Director general of the OUR Ansord Hewitt pointed out, "The introduction of 10-digit dialling will not mean an increase in telephone charges. Nor will anyone have to change their existing telephone numbers."

"However, we are encouraging persons, especially businesses and government agencies, to start adding the current 876 area code on all their printed materials and signage. We are also encouraging users of alarm services and solutions with automatic diallers, and operators of PBX systems, to contact their respective service providers to ensure that their systems will be compatible with the new numbering and dialling arrangements."