In a bid to distinguish its own network identity and to cut confusion which sometimes arises especially with an external network, telecoms provider Digicel has already begun a move to establish its own Home Network Identifier (HNI).
Digicel CEO Addison Stoddard (centre) is flanked by (from left) Damion Long, Chief Technical Officer for Digicel; Denise Saunders, Digicel's Sale Director; Kenva Wiliams, Director General of the Telecommunications Commission; and Russel Gardiner, Director at the Telecommunications Commission.
This exercise though warrants its customers to exchange their current sim cards with a new card, which bears the flag of the Turks and Caicos Islands. They will retain their current number after the exchange.
Home Network Identifier is a unique code that identifies the home network of the subscriber.
When Digicel came into the Turks and Caicos Islands market more than a decade ago, the Telecommunications Commission, due to the Cable and Wireless monopoly at the time, allowed it to piggyback off the Jamaica HNI.
However, on many occasions, the code-sharing between Jamaica and Turks and Caicos became a bit cumbersome, especially to visitors to the archipelago because the code made them believe that they were on a Jamaican network.
And so, to this end, it became necessary that Digicel TCI assigned its own code.
Denise Saunders, Sales Director for the Digicel TCI pointed out at a news conference on Wednesday, July 21, that the code is unique to Digicel and, which will enable it to be identified throughout the world.
“We were using another code…the HNI is made up of the Mobile Country Code (MCC) and the Mobile Network Code (MNC). So, we are switching from an MCC and MNC of 338-050 to 376-370,” she explained.
She expounded that the change came as a result of a request from the Telecommunications Commission, since the Digicel TCI code, which it shared with Jamaica, was not being recognized internationally as that of the local telecoms provider.
Saunders further pointed out that the company has already begun to swap its customers sim cards, and is urging all subscribers to follow suit as quickly as possible.
She said also that identifiable Digicel representatives are out in the field engaging customers on that front. She said the sim card swap is free.
She further asserted that there would be a number of promotions geared to entice customers to exchange their cards with haste.
For his part, Addison Stoddard, CEO of Digicel Turks and Caicos, explained that the 376 code is unique and recognizes any network in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“So, if you travel often to the United States, Europe or wherever, you search networks, and sometimes you might find names like T-Mobile and so on. But in some cases, you might see six numbers, and that’s because of the fact that sometimes the concept providers haven’t yet been able to have a name to attach to those six numbers,” Stoddard pointed out.
“Those six numbers are mobile country codes…mobile network codes,” he added.
Kenva Williams, Director General for Telecommunications Commission, who was also in attendance, said he was happy to see Digicel switching to the new HNI Code.
“We have been pushing Digicel for some time to make the change, but of course we understand the challenges to get it done. When Digicel came into Turks and Caicos, and we negotiated with them to have a smooth transition into the market that was basically a monopoly.
“And so, we agreed for Digicel to use the Jamaica HNI Code, because they (Digicel Jamaica) were already established and identified. But it was always the intent of the Telecommunications Commission to have a code assigned to Digicel Turks and Caicos,” he said.
Williams pointed out that the former code used by the telecoms provider was somewhat confusing, especially to visitors, who when logged on to the code, got a text greeting of, ’Welcome to Jamaica’.
He said with a code now assigned to the Digicel TCI, that confusion has been solved.
Russell Gardiner, Director of Telecommunication at the Telecommunications Commission pointed out that the process would only be completed once customers quickly make the switch.
“The final leg of this programme is the sim-swap exercise. It is now for the customers to swap their card because there would be some implications if they do not do so. Of course, you don’t want your services to be disrupted. It is a minor inconvenience in order to transition over to the new HNI code,” Gardiner said, noting that the benefit to customers is tremendous.
In the meantime, Stoddard said Digicel hopes to complete the exercise before year-end. He said customers stand the chance of winning weekly niceties upon switching their cards. Among the goodies are drones, iPads and mobile data packages.
Stoddard said all the COVID 19 Protocols are being followed in the stores and in the field as they engage customers to make the changeover.