876 and 658: The history behind Jamaica’s area code


Jamaica has a new area code: 658. It became necessary for Jamaica to get an additional Numbering Plan Area (NPA) code, commonly called an area code, as the Office of Utilities Regulation (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. Under the Telecommunications Act, the OUR has full responsibility for the allocation, assignment (to service providers) and usage of telecommunication
numbers in Jamaica.

Jamaica’s ‘876’ area code was assigned in 1996 June. It was envisaged then, that that the area code would provide sufficient numbering capacity for the next 20 years of demand growth.

But, in 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 and, consequently, to move from the current standardized 7-digit to a mandatory 10-digit dialling for all local calls.

At December 2009, 6,250,000 of the assumed capacity of 7,730,000 numbers had been assigned to telecommunications service providers and their projected 5-year demand for numbers indicated a need for 1,310,000 new numbers over the next three years. Using its numbering resource utilization and forecast survey results, the OUR estimated that the expected period for the exhaustion of area code 876 would be the 4th quarter of 2012.

However, subsequent developments in the local telecommunications markets (including acquisitions of local telecommunications business operations and the lowering of mobile termination rates) which lowered the utilization of and demand for numbering resources, served to delay the exhaustion of the 876 area code until the current forecast date. Typically, an additional area code must be implemented at least eighteen months before the exhaustion of the existing area code(s) serving an area.

See our answers to frequently asked questions: 876 and 658: All You Need To Know About Jamaica’s New Area Code


Source: Office of Utilities Regulation