Jamaica now has an additional area code: 658.
And the Office Utilities Regulation (OUR) says come May 31, 2018 ten-digit will become mandatory for local calls — that’s the three-digit area code plus the seven digit number.
At present, callers do not have to dial the area code when making local calls.
“This new code will be used in addition to and not as a replacement for the existing 876 area code, said OUR Director General Ansord E. Hewitt.
“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.”
The OUR says the additional area code will ensure that there are sufficient numbers to meet the demand 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.
What the additional area code means
*The introduction of ten-digit dialling will not mean an increase in telephone charges.
*The introduction of ten-digit dialling will not mean anyone has to change existing telephone numbers.
What to do now
*Businesses and government agencies should start adding the current 876 area code on all their printed materials and signage.
*Users of alarm services and solutions with automatic diallers, and operators of PBX systems should contact their service providers to ensure that their systems will be compatible with the new numbering and dialling arrangements.
Permissive dialling period
*Come May 31, 2018, there will be an adjustment period known as the permissive dialling period.
*During this time, if only the seven-digit telephone number is dialled, the caller will hear a recording reminding him/her to dial the number using the area code plus the seven-digit number. However, the call will be completed to the called number.
*After the permissive dialling period is ended, all local calls will require ten-digit dialling to be completed. For example, to call the OUR, persons will have to dial 876-968-6053.
The OUR says it expects that telecommunications service providers will ensure that their customers are fully informed about the upcoming changes over the next several months.
The history of the numbers
*Jamaica’s ‘876’ area code was assigned in 1996 June. It was envisaged then, that the area code would provide sufficient numbering capacity for the next 20 years of demand growth.
*In 2009, after just 13 years, the country had to consider the introduction of a new Area Code to augment the existing ‘876’ numbering space and, consequently, to move from the current standardised 7-digit to a mandatory 10-digit dialling for all local calls.
*As at December 2009, 6.25 million of the assumed capacity of 7.73 million numbers had been assigned to telecommunications service providers and their projected five-year demand for numbers indicated a need for 1.31 million new numbers over the next three years.
*Using its numbering resource utilisation and forecast survey results, the OUR estimated that the expected period for the exhaustion of area code 876 would be the 4th quarter of 2012.
*However, subsequent developments in the local telecommunications markets (including acquisitions of local telecommunications business operations and the lowering of mobile termination rates) which lowered the utilisation of and demand for numbering resources, served to delay the exhaustion of the 876 area code until the current forecast date.
*Typically, an additional area code must be implemented at least eighteen months before the exhaustion of the existing area code(s) serving an area.