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Businesses Urged to Use 10-Digit Format to Display Mobile and Landline Numbers

By: , July 18, 2023
Businesses Urged to Use 10-Digit Format to Display Mobile and Landline Numbers
Photo: COntributed
Public Education Specialist at the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), Elizabeth Bennett Marsh.

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Business operators are being encouraged to ensure that the 10-digit format is used to publish and display all local mobile and landline numbers, using the correct area code for each number.

The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) recently assigned a Central Office Code – a number block which contains 10,000 telephone numbers – under Jamaica’s new area code, ‘658’. Jamaica’s other area code is 876.
Speaking on the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Television Programme ‘Get the Facts’ recently, Public Education Specialist for Consumer and Public Affairs at the OUR, Elizabeth Bennett Marsh, said all branding materials by now must have the 876 numbers, as numbers will be duplicated under the new area code eventually.

“We want to tell you that this is an exciting time for Jamaica, but we want you to ensure that you’re fully compliant, so that you have no worries. So, for small/large businesses, if you have not already done so, please take the time to ensure that you have the 876-area code on all your signage, all your decals on your trucks and your buses and your vans,” she urged.

“You don’t want your customers, in the case of businesses, to be wondering, is this an 876 number or a 658 number and calling the wrong number. And if you have to get your customers to think too hard about your number, they’re just not going to call, especially in a competitive environment, right?” she added.

In May of 2018, Jamaica became the first country in the English-speaking Caribbean to be allocated an additional area code.

The 876-area code, which has been in existence since 1996, was expected to 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.

“Well over 10 years ago, the Office of Utilities Regulation, which is responsible for numbering in Jamaica, did its projections and determined that in another few years we’ll soon be running out of phone numbers. A lot of people don’t realise that numbers are not just made for calling, increasingly we’re using numbers for point-of-sale machines, it’s par for the course these days,” Mrs. Bennett Marsh said.

“We would have made our projections, and as part of our responsibility we have to ensure that there is always availability of phone numbers to conduct the business of the country,” she added.

The OUR introduced 10-digit dialling in 2018, during the same time the regulator also introduced the area code 658 into the mix.

“All of us really at that point in time up to 2018, did not know what it was like to dial 10 digits, except if we go abroad. So, the culture change is something that we had to focus on at the OUR in tandem with the major [telecommunications] providers. Between 2018 and up to recently, we focused on encouraging persons to ensure that they are dialling 10 digits to get them into that habit,” Mrs. Bennett Marsh said.

She further explained that during the period, the OUR worked in tandem with the major utility providers, FLOW and Digicel, adding that a communication task force was established.

“They, in turn, had a mandate to liaise with their customers, especially their business customers, about what is required for transitioning and in some cases where they need to perhaps update their system… buy new equipment. Then they were given sufficient time to do so,” the Public Education Specialist said, adding that a sensitisation campaign was also undertaken.

In the meantime, Mrs. Bennett Marsh said the OUR will continue with its sensitisation campaign.

“We’re going to be continuing with our public education campaign because it’s very important, and we also want people to be mindful of the fact that 10-digit dialling also extends to toll-free numbers. So, for the toll-free numbers in Jamaica, it is 888… . We no longer have to put the one in front of it for all local toll-free numbers,” she stated.

She further encouraged Jamaicans to “ensure that you’re going to your directory in your down time”.

“Just go into your phone directory and convert all your seven-digit numbers that are still outstanding to your 10-digit number, 876 included,” Mrs. Bennett Marsh urged.

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