Jamaica readies for new area code and 10-digit dialling

Business reporter

Friday, May 19, 2017

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Jamaica could be a bit closer to ascertaining the new area code to facilitate 10-digit dialling for local calls. The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) editor, Gordon Brown, in the OUR's March to April 2017 Editor's Note Pad, says the country will soon be updated on the new area code as more details become available.

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. According to the OUR, in order to ensure that telephone numbers will always be available, a new area code will be introduced.

It's an initiative that the OUR has been working on since 2012. The OUR has since placed a formal request to the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA) for the assignment of an additional area code and has commenced the Numbering Plan Area implementation process.

Last November the OUR hosted the first in a series of face-to-face sensitisation meetings with the business community about the upcoming introduction of another area code and 10-digit dialling. The aim of the meeting was to get feedback from stakeholders about the proposed plans.

Additional meetings are also to be held with stakeholders and special interest groups (outside of consumers) who will be impacted by the introduction of a new area code and 10-digit dialling.

At present, there are potentially 800 area codes in the NANP, but not all are available for telephone numbers. The OUR noted that it's not yet clear how soon Jamaicans will be required to dial all 10 digits when placing a call.

Director of corporate communications and stakeholder management at FLOW, Kayon Wallace, told the Jamaica Observer that key parts of the telecommunications company network can now support 10-digit dialling. However, some further software upgrades, along with table and configuration adjustments, are required to implement this dialling format into production.

The OUR has advised that Jamaica's mobile providers have agreed on the use of a standard overlay method for the implementation of the 10-digit dialing system.

It means that the island's telecommunication carriers and service providers will open an additional area code to serve geographic areas where the existing 876 area code will soon be exhausted.

According to the OUR, the method was selected by the telecommunication carriers and service providers and backed by the OUR due to cost considerations. In its NPA Frequently Asked Questions Brochure for March 2017, the OUR reasoned that the service providers will benefit from no number changes in operations support systems and no reprogramming of wireless devices under the standard overlay method.

The new numbering system is, however, expected to impact local businesses mainly through the updating of printed materials such as stationery, business cards, labels, bills, and the reprogramming/updating of equipment, devices that store and analyse telephone numbers.

Business operators will also be required to update directory listings for number changes; notify customers and business associates, as well as friends and family regarding number changes; and updating of advertising.

The number change is also expected to impact market identity/recognition, geographic identity, and public familiarity.




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