COME May 31 Jamaica will be the first in the Caribbean to introduce 10-digit dialling and will also be the first in the region to introduce a second area code.
The introduction of 10-digit dialling in Jamaica forms part of plans to move the country from the current standardised 7-digit dialling as Jamaica’s existing 876 area code becomes exhausted.
The new area code 658 will also be added.
“Some years ago the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) realised that Jamaica’s numbering capacity was nearing exhaustion and we took the appropriate steps to address this risk.” said OUR Director General Ansord Hewitt during a media workshop in Kingston on Wednesday.
The OUR noted that 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 regulator estimated that the expected period for the exhaustion of area code 876 would be the fourth quarter of 2012.
Hewitt explained that industry developments, including regulatory actions and major telecom business acquisitions eased the urgency to implement the changes.
However, he said several factors in the local and international telecommunications sector, including the demand for fixed-line dialling, outstripped what Jamaica’s current 876 area code could supply.
Hewitt said the new 658 area code is expected to last for at least another decade.
At the same time, information communication technology consultant at the OUR, Curtis Robinson said that on May 31, when 10-digit dialling takes effect, the last seven digits of a telephone number will no longer identify a unique address as those digits will also be replicated under the new area code.
Robinson noted that during this period if a customer failed to dial out using the 10-digit number he/she would be reminded, via an automated prompt by their telephone provider to do so.
He further stated that the 658 area code will not be readily available for use at the start of the permissive period but estimated that it would become necessary by November 2019.