Jamaica News: As at 12:01 a.m. today (May 31), Jamaica became the first country in the English-speaking Caribbean to utilize an additional area code – 658.
From now until October 30 will be designated as the permissive period, which means seven-digit calls will still be allowed based on a collaboration between the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) and telecommunication providers, FLOW and Digicel.
However, after this permissive period, it will become mandatory that persons dial the 10 digits.
The new area code will work alongside the existing 876 that was first assigned in 1996 when it was the view then that it would provide sufficient numbering capacity for the next 20 years of demand growth.
However, 13 years later the country had to consider the introduction of a new area code to augment the existing 876 numbering space.
Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, at an OUR media workshop on the additional area code and 10-digit dialing, in April, cited the increased competition among local telecommunication providers as the primary reason for the proposed introduction of the new 658 area code.
Others reasons, Dr. Wheatley listed, include: the introduction of an increase in the growth of home and business telephones; and the rapid spike in wireless phones, pagers, modems and fax machines.
Data from the OUR indicate that the new area code will provide more than seven million additional numbers for the next decade.
The method of relief dialing provided by the code is known as the standard overlay method and will serve the same geographic area used by the existing 876 code.
This is favoured by telecommunication carriers and service providers due to cost considerations.
Meanwhile, in a statement to its customers, telecommunication company FLOW is reminding customers to update their contact list with the 876 prefix before dialing the 7-digit numbers.
Source: JIS News