OUR’s 10-Digit Dialling means MVNO and Competition coming to Digicel and FLOW

“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.”

OUR’s Press Release on 10 Digit Dialling coming May 31, 2018

On Monday March 26th 2018, the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) held a webinar to explain to Jamaicans what to expect under the new 10 Digit Dialling regime.

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”.

So why does Jamaican need to have 10-digit dialling?

Jamaican’s 876 Area Code – A Brief History of Area Codes

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.

Jamaica’s ‘876’ area code was assigned in 1996 June. Back then, it was thought that that the area code 876, which has an assumed capacity for 7,730,000 phone numbers, both mobile and landline, would provide sufficient numbering capacity for the next 20 years of demand growth……

We were wrong…. I’ll let the OUR’s Webinar, which aired on Monday March 26th 2018, explain it for you.

By 2009, after just thirteen (13) years, the country had to consider the introduction of a new Area Code to augment the existing ‘876’ numbering space. Thus we needed to move from the current standardized 7-digit to a mandatory 10-digit dialling for all local calls.

By December 2009, 6,250,000 of the assumed capacity of 7,730,000 numbers had been assigned to telecommunications service providers. The OUR and the Telecom Providers realized than in their five year projections, they’ve need 1,310,000 new numbers over the next three years. At this rate, it was estimated that we’d exhaust all unused numbers under the 876 dialling regime by the quarter of 2012.

Luck was on Jamaica’s Telecom Industry side. First there was the acquisition of CLARO by Digicel as detailed in my article CLARO’s Freeness ends 5th January 2012 – Digicel’s Bigger, Better with Data and Cloud.

Then the lowering of mobile termination rates by the OUR, which FLOW jumped on with gusto as noted in LIME drops Cross Network Calling rate to JA$6.99 to kick off a 3 year Battle for Mobile Market Dominance.

By 2015, these factors, combined with recycling phone numbers resulted in the lowered the demand for mobile numbers, averting the ‘876’ numbering space crisis. Interestingly, an additional area code must be implemented at least eighteen months before the exhaustion of the existing area code(s) serving an area.

So the implementation date on Monday March 26th 2018 implies that by September 2019, we would have exhausted the current number‘876’ numbering space.

The new 658 Area Code – How it will work

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. 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.

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 dialling 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”.

Digicel, FLOW and 658 Dialling code – Herald for MVNO In Jamaica

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.

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). So expect to also heat of New Telecom Providers planning to come to Jamaica as well as Caricel expanding into mobile phone calling.

Here’s the link

Jamaica Gets Another Area Code and will Start Ten-Digit Local Dialling


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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.