My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: OUR applies for new Area Code for Jamaica as Mobile competition in Telecoms Catching Fire

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

OUR applies for new Area Code for Jamaica as Mobile competition in Telecoms Catching Fire

To say I’m not excited at the re-application by the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) to the NANP (North American Numbering Plan) in the US of A for a new Area Code as stated in “Jamaica to get additional area code”, published Thursday February 7, 2013, The Jamaica Gleaner, it would not be me being true to myself. I’m VERY excited, as this news, simply put; it implies another Telecom Provider may soon be coming to Jamaica.

This bit of news came to light during a January 2013 reading in Parliament of the OUR’s 2011-2012 Report. In that Report, the OUR stated that they expected Jamaica to experience a serious crunch of phone numbers by the Fourth Quarter of 2012 going on into the First Quarter of 2013. They, if this report is to be believed, will make this Public by March 2013 along with Licenses for interested Local and FDI (Foreign Direct Investors) who will have to place competitive bids in order get access to numbers under the new Area Code.

Coincidentally, the new JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transport Company) Cashless System is to go live in March 2013 with full implementation in April 2013 as noted in my blog article entitled ”JUTC to debut RFID & NFC Readable SmarterCard Cashless Bus Ticket System in April 2013 - The Last Stand for a Cashless Society to empower the Multi-Modal Concept”.

Around that same time too, the construction of SJPC (South Jamaica Power Company) LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) Power Plant to be located on a 300-acre property in Old Harbour is slated to begin as noted in my blog article entitled “SJPC, the Marubeni, EWP and JPS Co consortium's to begin LNG Plant Construction in Q2 of 2013 - Jamaica's On A Mission towards The Impossible Promised Land”.

Interesting coincidences, with the timeline indicating that they may be somewhat connected; the lure of cheaper power and a revamped JUTC. These are developments in Jamaica which investors in Telecoms can find ready high-demand traffic Mobile Computing for their capital-intensive 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) Data Networks.

Mobile Computing is the trend globally now catching on here in Jamaica according to the OUR’s Second Quarter of 2011 statistics as concluded in my blog article entitled “OUR Telecom Provider Stats indicate JA$14 billion profit for Second Quarter of 2011AD - Telecom Providers Stacking up all Faces on the Argo Video Calling and VoIP on smartphones”.

The fact that the SMA (Spectrum Management Authority) is yet to complete the spectrum allocations for the new 700MHz spectrum License and Fiber Optic License as explained in my blog article entitled “Phillip Paulwell allocates 700Mhz and Fiber Optic License for LTE - Broadcasters effectively on notice for Digital Switch Over” is still of significance, but not highly important.

Most likely this will mean that the 700MHz spectrum License and Fiber Optic License will be fast-tracked and MNP (Mobile Number Portability) will have to be implemented in the First Quarter of 2013 in a bid to make more efficient use of the wasted phone numbers.
It’s been some seven (7) months after Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell had announced his intention in Parliament to do so on Tuesday July 24th 2012 as reported in the article “Samsung snags LNG project”, published Wednesday July 25, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner and officially via the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) mouthpiece, the JIS (Jamaica Information Service) in the article “Gov't Looking at 700 Mhz Band for Analogue TV Broadcasting”, published Thursday, 26 July 2012 10:34, Jamaica Information Service.

So I’ll assume they’ve made progress on the spectrum allocation, as some of that spectrum’s to be used for 4G LTE, which still uses GSM to authenticate access. 4G LTE Networks can be homogenous i.e. built without having a dedicated Voice GSM (Global System Mobile) Service, but to get the 4G LTE licenses, you have to have an existing GSM license. Thus you first have to have a GSM Voice Networks and SIM (Subscriber Identification Modules) to authenticate user access.

The reason for a new Area Code is due mainly to the inefficient recycling of the almost 8 million (8,000,000) numbers given to Jamaica back in 2001 when the Telecom Sector was liberalized as explained in my blog article entitled “Digicel calls for MNP for Fixed Line - LIME's Brave Homefone Xpress coming with Telecoms Tax and Flat Rate Tariff”.

Now twelve (12) years later we still have no MNP (Mobile Number Portability) as had been promised and thus no way to lock in customers to their Voice Network and charge them for switching Networks in a bid to reduce churn. Worse, competition has resulted in wasteful management of phone numbers in a bid to be top Mobile Telecom Provider. Knowing this process of competition, it makes me doubt many of the Telecom Providers stats as it relates to the number of customers they claim to have, as I suspect many of those numbers are really dead SIM Cards.

Basically what it means is that should we get the new Area Code that applies to the same geographic, making a phone call in the future will mean dialing an extra three (3) digits Area Code in front of the phone numbers to make calls and distinguish phone numbers on the same or different Telecom Networks. 

Using my phone number, 810-3537 as an example, each phone number is composed of two parts:

1.      Central Office Code i.e. 810
2.      Station Code i.e. 3537

A few quick facts:

1.      The Central Office Code has a range of 200 to 999, a total of eight hundred (800) numbers
2.      The Station Code has a range of 0000 to 9999, a total of ten thousand (10,000) numbers

Using basic permutation math, that works out to be a total of eight million (8,000,000) numbers, which an island with approximately 2.7 million people somehow have managed to exhaust.

Simply put, therefore, a new Area Code would allow for the re-use of the same numbers on Different Telecom Providers e.g. 810-3537 could be reused within the same or different Telecom Networks:

1.      876-810-3537
2.      877-810-3537

This would result in doubling our effective number range from some 8 million numbers to 16 million….again, please note, in an island of less than 3 million people according to OUR’s Stats.

Still Minister Paulwell’s been making steady progress towards MNP’s implementation in a bid to achieve all the benefits of MNP such as MRSI (Mandatory Registration of Subscriber Identification) and elimination of Unlocked mobile phones as noted in my blog article entitled “Librarian of the Library of Congress makes smartphone unlocking Illegal - How Jamaica can benefit from the Safe Haven of MNP by banning unlocking of smartphones and Tablets”.

Achieving MNP before April 2013 will make it easier to get the NANP’s accent this time around to get the new Area Code. This in anticipation in the coming Hunger Game: Catching Fire (2013) Competition in Data Services for the rise of Mobile Computing as prophesied in my blog article entitled “OUR Telecom Provider Stats indicate JA$14 billion profit for Second Quarter of 2011AD - Telecom Providers Stacking up all Faces on the Argo Video Calling and VoIP on smartphones”.

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