Get ready for dialling change

... OUR, telecoms providers appeal to businesses as 10-digit system takes effect soon

Staff reporter

Sunday, February 18, 2018

In light of the impending 10-digit dialling system which becomes reality on May 31, the Office of the Utilities Regulation (OUR), along with telecommunications providers FLOW and Digicel, is appealing to businesses and other stakeholders to prepare themselves adequately and their customers for the switch from the usual seven-digit dialling.

The change is in preparation for the new area code 658 to be introduced and used in addition to the current 876, once all numbers under that area code have been exhausted. Once it takes effect, the area code will be needed in order to differentiate numbers from each respective area code among varying telecommunications customers.

Speaking at the Jamaica Observer's Press Club held at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue headquarters on Thursday, Public Education Specialist at the OUR, Elizabeth Bennett Marsh, said that with this changeover businesses will be the most impacted.

“Now they are required to change their signage — for example, if they have seven numbers on their big signs, their letterheads, business cards and PBX [Private Branch Exchange] systems, they will now have to do some changes,” said Bennett Marsh.

To facilitate a seamless transition, Regional Communications Manager for Digicel Elon Parkinson said that where it concerns business customers, Digicel has been in constant contact with them since the announcement was made.

Parkinson spoke specifically to business customers' use of the PBX system which is a private telephone network used within a company or organisation which communicates internally (within their company) and externally (with the outside world) using different channels, allowing the company to have more phones than physical phone lines and allows free calls between users.

Parkinson noted that it was crucial for Digicel to let customers know about the relationship between themselves and the programme, for example, the PBX equipment.

“PBX equipment will have to be reprogrammed in some cases to accommodate the longer string of numbers that would be needed to dial, and so that is actively taking place and where it concerns programming costs to the service level agreements that exist between the Digicel Business and the respective customers; it is being actively pursued as well,” added Parkinson.

On that same point, Director of Corporate Communications and Stakeholder Management at FLOW Kayon Wallace said that the company will be working “very closely” with business customers who have PBX systems and are under managed contracts.

“Those customers that we have who are under the managed services contracts, we will certainly abide by the terms of those contracts, whatever those outline. If it includes changes such as this one, then certainly we will honour the terms. But we do have other customers who would have the latitude in terms of engaging with their contractors to get their systems updated [and] have engaged their contractors,” Wallace further explained.

She added that that is a part of the messaging being carried forward, because business customers will need to ensure that they get that work done in preparation for the change.

“There is no charge for them to connect to our network and all of that, so it's all a matter of engaging their contractor to ensure that the work is done. And other management services, we'll abide by the terms of the contract — whatever it is that we had agreed on,” Wallace commented.

At the same time, the OUR's Bennett Marsh also informed that the prefix '1' before local toll free numbers will be discontinued.

“We have, for example, the '888' number. We are used to hearing 1-888 call JPS for example. We are doing away with that “1' in front of the local toll free numbers so that 10-digit across the board will be implemented come May 31. So, advertising will now have to modify to conform with the new changes,” continued Bennett Marsh.

She added that the OUR has engaged with directory services in preparation for the new dialling format, and it can be seen in the 2018 edition of the directory.

“If you notice that this year's directory now has the 876, [it is] in preparation for that. So they have been working with us and compared to the 2017 one that only had seven digits,” expressed Bennett Marsh.

For his part, OUR's Public Affairs Coordinator Gordon Brown encouraged businesses to act with alacrity. “Get it done now. Be in touch with your business partner who handles your PBX systems.”




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