My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: OUR, NANP 658 area code for Jamaica heralds MVNO Telecoms for Digicel and FLOW

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

OUR, NANP 658 area code for Jamaica heralds MVNO Telecoms for Digicel and FLOW

“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”.

OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) explains the coming introduction of the new 658 area code and 10 digit dialing!

It official, Jamaicans!! We have a new area code - 658!

The OUR  (Office of Utilities Regulation) announced on Monday, August 28, 2017 in a tweet on their Twitter Page @TheOURja that  ten-digit dialling would soon be mandatory come May 31, 2018 as reported in the article “Jamaica gets additional area code — 658”, published  Monday, August 28, 2017, The Jamaica Observer

So says the tweet on @TheOURja twitter page:



Simply put, by May 31, 2018, we will have 2 area codes and all local calls will require 10 digits to complete the call e.g. 876-555-5555 or 658-777-7777 as the @TheOURja indicates on their Facebook Page:


The OUR had also published their official press release as a *.PDF, which you can also download from their @TheOURja twitter page entitled “Jamaica Gets Another Area Code and will Start Ten-Digit Local Dialling”.

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It really comes down to the increasing need for more numbers as we had begun petitioning NANP (North American Numbering Plan) for an additional area code as I'd explained in my blog article entitled “OUR applies for new Area Code for Jamaica as Mobile competition in Telecoms Catching Fire”. 

Thus there is a need for the additional numbers as explained in the OUR's Press Release, quote: “It became necessary for Jamaica to get an additional Numbering Plan Area (NPA) code, commonly called an area code, as the OUR, 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.”

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Naturally, both Telecom Providers are compliant to this coming paradigm even as it opens up Jamaica to competition by the end of 2018 as noted in the article “Digicel, FLOW assure compatibility with new '658' area code”, published Tuesday, August 29, 2017, The Jamaica Observer.

So why is there a need for additional numbers?

OUR and the 658 area code - Coming change heralds coming MVNO Telecom Competition

The Telecommunications Act gives the OUR the power to allocate and assign the usage of telecommunication numbers in Jamaica.  Good to note here that both Telecom Providers are on board with this developement after months of public sensitization of the impending change as explained in “Telecoms Back New Area Code - Jamaica To Implement 10-Digit Dialling Next Year”, published Tuesday August 29, 2017, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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The new 658 area code will not replace the 876 area code but will be included alongside the previous area code that has served us so well. It’s slated to come into effect May 31, 2018 as by then it’s expected that we'd have fully exhausted our pool of numbers as noted in the article “Call 658 ... Jamaica Gets Additional Area Code, 10-Digit Dialling Becomes Mandatory May 2018”, published Monday August 28, 2017, The Jamaica Gleaner.

To quote Director General of the OUR 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, 2018”

No additional charges are involved and it won't be thrust upon us immediately; a period of permissive dialling after implementation on that date will be allowed.

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If you still dial a 7 digit code, your call will still go through as noted by Ansord E Hewitt: “During this time, lasting at least five months, customers will reach numbers in the current area code by dialling ten digits or, if in error or unknowingly they dial seven digits. 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; then the call will be completed to the called number”.

During that time, Jamaicans will have to change their advertising, signage and other printed material to reflect the new dialing paradigm, to quote Ansord E Hewitt: “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”.

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Best of all, this sets the stage for other Telecom Provider to enter Jamaica, as we'll now have enough numbers to accommodate up to 2 additional competitors, possibly MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) as noted in my blog article entitled “@TheOURja MVNO Licenses – How Telecom Providers benefit and Why MVNO are a source of Product Innovation”.

So set your calendars for May 31, 2018, as by then announcements of a new Telecom Provider may start permeating the airwaves!!!


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