To some, 868 is just another number, but for Trinbagonians, those three iconic digits have become part of our identity. While 868 is the unique dialing code that routes international calls to the phones of consumers in Trinidad and Tobago, those three digits have also become a symbol that evokes a sense of national pride, passion and love for country. Despite being a common thread that connects citizens at home and within the diaspora to T&T, few know that TSTT had a role in creating that country code and the particular digits were selected because they corresponded to the letters ‘TNT’ on a phone dial pad.
Before Trinidad and Tobago took on the country code of “868”, there was just one common regional code -809. This code had been in existence since 1958 and used for all of the Caribbean, with the exception of Cuba, Haiti, Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles, and the French West Indies. Area code 809 had been developed by the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA) which served countries in the Caribbean, North America and neighboring territories. Back in 1994, as the telecoms market in the region grew it was recognized that having this single code for all of the countries would limit the amount of phone numbers that could be created and in fact, it was projected that new numbers under the 809 code would be exhausted by the year 2007.
By the mid-1990’s, countries in the Caribbean began to split off from the 809 code and adopt their own unique digits in a coordinated effort with the NANPA. TSTT chose the unique country code ‘868’ for Trinidad and Tobago because it represented the letters ‘T’ ‘N’ ‘T’ on a dial pad. The new country code was ratified by the NANP Administration and the change was introduced from June 1, 1997 where both the 809 area code and the new 868 area code co-existed. This was just to facilitate the transition over the course of one year and from June 1, 1998 the 868 code became Trinidad and Tobago’s exclusive area code.
Marsha Caballero, TSTT’s Vice President, Corporate Communications stated, “TSTT is proud of the technology that we’ve introduced over the years and the innovation that we continue to champion; all of which improve the lives of our people. Many other people and organisations have equally important stories to tell about milestones in the country’s history that gave every citizen an immense feeling of pride for our country. We are therefore rolling out an extended ‘868’ campaign to celebrate the creativity and drive that has become so intimately woven into the identity of Trinidad and Tobago. Adopting 868 twenty years ago represented the continued evolution of Trinidad and Tobago’s unique identity, strengths and ambition. For TSTT it marked another milestone in the decade of the 90’s when we introduced our mobile and broadband services to the nation. Since then, 868 has become more than a TSTT story, it has become a symbol of building a powerful Trinidad and Tobago legacy.”
Caballero also noted that celebrating the 868 places patriotism at the fore, “The iconography in the logo was intentional. It is infused with elements from our culture and historical influences and draws on the uniqueness of Trinidad and Tobago’s landscape, nature and the ingenuity of our people.”
“It is the perfect way to celebrate how ‘868’ has become a rallying point for national identity and for citizens who are proud of where they are from, proud of their own aspirations and proud of everything, great and small, that makes us stand out.”