876 and 658: All You Need To Know About Jamaica’s New Area Code

Two important developments were recently announced by the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) in Jamaica:

  1. Jamaica got another area code – 658
  2. Ten-digit dialing will become mandatory in the island for local calls on May 31, 2018

The big question in everyone’s minds is: what does this mean for the average Jamaican, as well as for businesses and organisations? Do these developments change, in any significant way, how they will be able to make and receive calls both home and abroad? Find below the answers to some of these questions.

1. Why is Jamaica getting an additional area code?

Jamaica’s cell phone industry has enjoyed immense success and fairly high demand over the years. In order to ensure that there are sufficient numbers available to satisfy growth in demand for these resources over the next 25 years, the OUR has procured an additional area code for the country.

2. Will the new area code replace the old one?

No it will not. The new area code is an additional one, which means the country will have two area codes: 876 and 658.

3. When will the new area code come into effect?

According to OUR Director General Ansord E. Hewitt, “This new code will be used once the existing telephone numbers under the 876 area code are exhausted.”

4. What is ten-digit dialing?

Currently, most Jamaicans use seven digits when dialing local numbers in the country. With ten-digit dialing, they will have to place the country’s area code before the seven digits when making local calls. So, instead of dialing 123-4567, they will have to add the area code 876-123-4567 or 658-123-4567 to make local calls.

5. When will ten-digit dialing be mandatory in Jamaica?

May 31, 2018

6. Why is ten-digit dialing now necessary in Jamaica?

Think about it: When a country has two area codes, it is possible that some numbers will have the same seven-digit endings with the only differentiating factor being the area code used. So, for example, it will be possible for Jane Doe and John Doe to have the number 123-4567. The differentiating factor will be whether the area code is 876 or 658. Let’s say Jane Doe’s number is 876-123-4567, and John Doe’s number is 658-123-4567. If a person dials the number without the area code, how will the system know who they are calling? Clearly, ten-digit dialing (i.e., dialing the full number including the area code) is necessary to avoid confusion.

7. Will any of this affect phone and call charges?

No. The additional area code will not affect current phone and call charges for Jamaicans. Neither will 10-digit dialing.

8. Will I have to change my phone number?

No. The phone numbers you already have will remain unaltered except for one thing: you now have to use the area code before the seven-digit number when making local calls.

9. How will businesses be affected?

The OUR is encouraging ” 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 dialing arrangements.”

10. How will ten-digit dialing be implemented?

According to the OUR, “Come 2018 May 31, there will be an adjustment period known as the permissive dialing period. 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. After the permissive dialling period is ended, all local calls will require ten-digit dialling to be completed.”

Source: The Office of Utilities Regulations

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