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by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
The invention of phones meant people worldwide could communicate using a new device. Advancements in technology mean, that we can now communicate with each other with just a few taps on a screen. But, what if you’d like to get to someone in another region or country, how would the call be directed to them specifically? This is where area codes come in.
The area code is the first there digit grouping in a telephone number that is common among all phone numbers in a wide region. Sometimes, if you are dialling from a number with a similar area code in the area, there would be no need to dial the area code.
However, if there is more than one area code in a region then the area code would be necessary for the call to be routed to the person you are trying to reach.
Usually, in Jamaica, dialling “876” was not needed. All you had to do was dial the 7-digit number for the person you were trying to reach. However, with the introduction of the newer area code, “658” in 2018, it is now mandatory to dial the one that coincides with the number of the person you are trying to reach.
With the implementation of the new 658 area code, Jamaica became the first English-speaking Caribbean country to introduce an additional area code.
The new area code is projected to provide 7 million numbers in the first decade.
Area codes can sometimes get a little more specific, to the town or even the street or neighbourhood. For example, if a number has the area code +1 (876) 952-0000, then it is most probably a business based in Montego Bay.
If you are familiar with the area codes it is usually easier to answer your phone with confidence that you will not be scammed.
Why is there more than one area code?
Multiple area codes ultimately boil down to one reason, they are needed to accommodate the number of persons living in the area. It is not uncommon for states in America to have multiple area codes, but for us in Jamaica, this was not always the case.
In fact, the entire island once used the same 876 area code, but as the 876 area code nears depletion, a new area code was necessary.
Is the Jamaica area code only for Flow?
No, both telephone companies in Jamaica are currently using the 876 area code and after this area code has been exhausted, they will both use the new 658 area code as well.
Why are area codes important?
Let’s say you are calling your friend without using the area code. You may get someone totally different or none at all because the router is not sure which area code should be attached to your card.
Jamaica’s first area code was assigned in June of 1996. The forecast at that time surmised that the area code would be able to provide phone numbers to Jamaica for 20 years. But, after just 13 years, this plan had to be put under revision. As of 2009, 6,250,000 of the 7,730,000 million possible phone numbers under 876, were used
In 2009, after just 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 a standardised 7-digit to mandatory 10-digit dialling for all local calls.
But although it was expected that the area code would have been depleted in 2012, new numbers are still being generated with 876.
How soon before the area code is depleted should a new one be implemented?
A new area code must be implemented at least 18 months before the forecasted depletion of the area code.
When a new area code is implemented, will the old one still work?
Yes, it will, the area code will still be assigned to the region, in this case, the country of Jamaica. The only difference is, that going forward, there will be no numbers generated with the “876” area code. You will still be able to call persons who got their numbers on the old area code.
So to dial a Jamaican number, whether landline, cellphone or fax, the new format is +1 (876/658) 123-4567. If it so happens to be a toll-free number, then remove the one at the beginning of the number to maintain the 10-digit number requirement.
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Jamaica Area Codes | Written: September 22, 2022