The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has released the first batch of new “658” area code numbers to telecommunication companies in the island.
The announcement was made by OUR’s Public Affairs Coordinator, Gordon Brown, during an interview with the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).
“Pretty soon, but we don’t know exactly when, you will see 876 and 658 area codes being used in Jamaica together. The important thing is that people have to get in the habit of saying your phone number with the area code and the seven digits that follow. We have to break that cycle of saying just the seven digits that we have been accustomed to,” Brown said.
He noted that the new area code was put in place due to the “complete usage” of numbers allocated using “876”.
“So, we had put it in place way back, and it came to fruition, where, in 2018, the area code 658 was introduced,” he noted.
“It was roughly about a one, or so, year timeframe that people had to get familiar with using 10-digit [dialing], and that is in preparation for, at some point in the future, when there isn’t going to be a choice, we will have to use the 658 in addition to the 876… and that time is soon,” Brown said.
7 million additional numbers…
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 enhance the existing 876 numbering space.
In 2018, data from the OUR indicated that the new area code would provide more than seven million additional numbers for the next decade.