Update on Dutch Sint Maarten in the Caribbean and the NANP [telecom]

On Sunday 10-October-2010 (which, BTW, was "10-10-10") the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean formally ceased to exist as a single political unit. The five at-the-time existing member islands now are independent from each other, although each still maintains some kind of relationship with the Dutch Kingdom in Europe. These five islands include: Bonaire, Curacao, Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius, Saba.

(NOTE that Sint Maarten refers to the southern part of the island. The northern part is French, Saint-Martin, and is NOT part of the same telephone numbering plan as the Dutch southern part of the island. Calls between the two sides are "international toll" although rather inexpensive, probably no more than some measured rate calls in many US metro areas, but they are also dialed internationally, as "00+CC+number". There doesn't appear to be any kind of "short-cut" dialing, although many businesses on each side of the island have "local" numbers assigned from BOTH telephone and political jurisdiction sides.)

About 25 years ago, the same thing happened with Aruba, in that they withdrew from the Netherlands Antilles. Aruba also got their own ITu assigned telephone country code +297, breaking off from the Netherland Antilles' +599 country code.

In the meantime, as the complete 10/10/10 breakup of the Netherlands Antilles was approaching, (Dutch) Sint Maarten had applied to become a NANP-member country. In October 2009, NANPA announced the assignment of +1-721 as the future area code for Sint Maarten. Permissive dialing of either/both legacy +599-(5xx-xxxx) as well as the new/NANP method

+1-721-(5xx-xxxx) for calls to Sint Maarten was to begin on 30-May-2010. Mandatory use of NANP +1-721-(5xx-xxxx) was to begin on 30-November-2010, with the legacy use of +599-(5xx-xxxx) to cease. NANPA also issued a Planning Letter regarding this. The test-number was not yet known at the time of the first NANPA-PL, to be determined at a later date. The Planning Letter also was lacking (and even erroneous) on other information -- it seemed to indicate that there is local "dialing" between Dutch Sint Maarten and French Saint-Martin, which is NOT true. And the original PL didn't include all of the +599-5xx / +1-721-5xx office codes for Dutch Sint Maarten

-- the wireless and the landline CLEC office codes were omitted in that list. And there were other misc. inconsistencies/errors/omissions as well.

In early March 2010, after no further information regarding the announcement of a test-number or a more detailed/corrected Planning Letter, NANPA did issue a second PL re: Sint Maarten, indicating that the permissive date of 30-May-2010 and mandatory date of

30-November-2010 were canceled, and that new implementation dates would be announced at a later date, when new plans were finalized.

That's about where things have stood for now.

In October 2010, the daily newspaper for Sint Maarten, the Daily Herald, had an article on Sint Maarten and the NANP, and it stated that Sint Maarten does still intend on joining the NANP, but that there are still further political and technical issues that still needed to be addressed and resolved before any new firm dates could be announced. This article is still available online at:

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"Country code 721 being worked out", dated Saturday 31-October-2010.

In December 2010, the NANC (North American Numbering Council) had one of their quarterly meetings. The NANC is a joint FCC and Industry organization which has meetings to resolve any numbering issues. NeuStar-NANPA is one of the major bodies in the NANC.

In the December 2010 "NANPA Report to the NANC",

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is the following announcement:

"St. Maarten Update - NANPA received notice that St. Maarten achieved autonomous country status effective October 10, 2010. As such, they are moving forward with the implementation of the 721 NPA code. Specifically, the plan is to implement permissive dialing of the

721 NPA on September 30, 2011, with mandatory dialing on March 31, 2012. NANPA will publish a Planning Letter with further details in January 2011." Today, Wednesday 05-January-2010, NeuStar-NANPA issued a new Planning Letter regarding +1-721 Sint Maarten, PL #418, which can be downloaded from NANPA's website at:
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The new/revised implementation dates are mentioned, and are the same ones as mentioned in the NANPA/NANC document from the December 2010 NANC meeting. The PL also mentions that 31-March-2013, a year AFTER mandatory dialing, is the date when carriers can begin removing any mandatory dialing recorded announcements for calls still dialed as +599 for legacy 5xx-xxxx Sint Maarten numbers.

There are still errors and omissions in the current/revised PL-418. It still mentions that "local international calls" to French Saint- Martin are dialable as "seven-digits". That can't be true, since there are no "local" calls between the French and Dutch sides, although the rates/charges are not really expensive for such a distance. Calls must be dialed as 00+, with apparently (hopefully) NANP dialing procedures (011+) introduced for calling to the French Saint-Marin side with the official integration of Dutch Sint Maarten in late 2011/early 2012.

MAYBE... this reference to "local international calls" to the French side refers to French-side businesses which have requested and been assigned FX lines with Dutch-side-based +599-5xx-xxxx (to become

+1-721-5xx-xxxx) numbers, which would be dialed locally from the Dutch side as 5xx-xxxx?

Also, while MOST of the wireless providers' c.o.codes are now listed in this new Planning Letter, there are still a few missing.

The incumbent landline provider is "Telem", and most of their office codes (54x range) are listed. There MIGHT be an additional code for Telem, in the 52x range which is NOT shown.

If Dutch Sint Maarten does indeed have landline CLEC providers, which I think they do, their office codes are NOT shown in the new NANPA PL.

TelCell is the largest wireless provider, and is associated with the landline incumbent telco Telem. There is currently a +599-555 code for TelCell! If that isn't changed to something else when +599-5xx Sint Maarten migrates to +1-721-(5xx), then there is going to be a conflict with US/Canadian service providers who treat all NPA+555 as Directory Assistance/Information! Calls intended for TelCell phones on 555-xxxx might either be blocked, or be routed to Telem incumbent Directory, or might be routed to "AT&T, What Island Please?" Caribbean directory "intercept". Even though all of the NANP-Caribbean has been broken into their own distinct NPA codes during the 1995-99 time-frame (and some have since been overlaid as well), AT&T (and other carriers) have been known to STILL route Caribbean NPA+555-1212 (except for calls to the two US Caribbean locations -- 787/939 Puerto Rico and 340 for the US Virgin Islands) to an AT&T OSPS operator who's pre-recorded auto-voice answers: "AT&T, What Island, Please?". This is supposed to be a fraud preventative measure. The AT&T operator will connect the call to that Caribbean inward directory operator and MONITOR the connection just in case the Caribbean inward directory asks the US/Canadian calling customer if they would like to be connected to that desired number. And thus a "directory call" at a fixed rate might be used for a longer conversation to a (non-US) NANP-Caribbean point! The AT&T operator would disconnect the call to the directory operator and instruct the caller to re-dial to the desired number.

There's no mention in the current NANPA PL for Sint Maarten specifically on whether or not 011+/01+ will be used for Sint Maarten to non-NANP points after they officially become part of the NANP. Currently, 00+ is used to place calls to points outside of +599.

There's no mention on whether or not N11 codes for services or '0' for the local (Telem) operator will be used. Presently, Sint Maarten and other +599 islands (former Netherlands Antilles) use their own locally assigned three-digit 91X and four-digit 92XX codes for special services and the operator. And these are NOT referenced at all in the NANPA PL. Many NANP-Caribbean as well as non-NANP countries have been known to use 91X service codes. And since it in the 91X range, 911 is used for Fire/Police Emergencies (but 912 is for Ambulance services) in Dutch Sint Maarten.

There are probably more things that SHOULD be addressed in the NANPA Planning Letter, but aren't right now. Hopefully, these will be in a future PL, especially the test-number, and correcting any errors and other omissions. (There's nothing mentioned about "equal access" for toll calls, whether currently or in their NANP migration, nor what codes are dialed for "vertical services". Are they going to use

101-XXXX codes? 11(X)XX / *(X)XX codes when they join the NANP?)

Also, the ITU's "National Numbering Plans" webpage,

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has recently created line-entry links for the former member islands of the Netherlands Antilles. The original line-entry link for the Netherlands Antilles itself is still on the page, with a link to a page of downloadable numbering-plan documents for the Netherlands Antilles, dated Nov.2009. (Nothing is mentioned about Sint Maarten's pending change from +599 to the NANP as +1-721 in that document though).

The new line-entry links at the ITU NNP webpage are:

- Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (+599)


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- Curacao (+599)


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- Sint Maarten (Dutch part) (+599)


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When clicking on the links for these three specific entries, all one currently gets to is a page that states:

------------------------------------------------------ Available languages and formats:

No Document currently available


The available languages and formats refers to MOST countires' numbering documents from the ITU, which could be doc and/or pdf files, in English and also usually also available in French and Spanish. Sometimes the link points to the URL for the numbering plan administrator for that jurisdiction (the US link points to NANPA's website, Canada's link points to the CNA's website, the UK's link points to Ofcom's website, etc), or it could point to a downloadable .xls spreadsheet of numbering plan information for that country.

As for the future numbering of Curacao, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, that is still unclear. I assume that Curacao (where the capital city for the old Netherlands Antilles was located), will retain

+599. Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, could POSSIBLY become city-codes within +33 Holland! That's only a guess, but it is a possibility. OR... they some or all might want to become a part of the NANP as well, but they would still need to APPLY for admission, on their own, and probably can't "just simply piggyback" on Sint Maarten's (pending) NANP-status.

More details as they become available.

Mark J. Cuccia markjcuccia at yahoo dot com Lafayette LA, formerly of New Orleans LA pre-Katrina

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Mark J. Cuccia
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