To accommodate new 988 three-digit number approved for National Suicide Prevention Hotline
By AT&T and Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted 988 as a new three-digit number to be used nationwide to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline, starting July 16, 2022. Customers must continue to dial 1.800.273.TALK (8255) to reach the Lifeline until then.
For 988 to work in the 925 area code, mandatory 10-digit local dialing must first be implemented starting on October 24, 2021.
Get ready to change the way you dial your local calls!
What will be the new dialing procedure? To complete all local calls, you will now need to dial area code + telephone number. This applies to all calls within your area code that are currently dialed with seven digits. Some states or providers may use 1 + area code + telephone number, such as CA and parts of the Midwest.
Who will be affected? Anyone with a telephone number from your area code will need to make a change from 7-digit local dialing to 10-digit or 11-digit local dialing.
When will the change begin? Beginning October 24, 2021, you must dial 10 or 11 digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls. On and after this date, local calls dialed with only 7 digits may not be completed, and a recording will inform you that your call cannot be completed as dialed. You must hang up and dial again using the area code and the 7-digit number or 1+ area code and the 7-digit number.
What will you need to do? In addition to changing your dialing patterns, all services, automatic dialing equipment, or other types of equipment that are programmed to complete calls to 7-digit local numbers will need to be reprogrammed to complete calls to 10-digit numbers or 1+10-digit numbers. Some examples are life safety systems or medical monitoring devices, PBXs, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, fire or burglar alarm and security systems or gates, speed dialers, mobile or other wireless phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and other similar functions. Be sure to check your website, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, personal and business checks, contact information, your personal or pet ID tags, and other such items to ensure the area code is included.
Be sure to add 1 (925) to all local phone numbers in your mobile phone contacts list.
What will remain the same?
- Your telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
- The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the dialing change.
- A local call now will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed.
- You will continue to dial 1+ area code + telephone number for all long-distance calls.
- You can still dial just three digits to reach 711 (relay services) and 911 (emergency services).
- Any 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, or 811 services available in your community can still be reached by dialing their three-digit codes.
Why Is Ten-Digit Dialing Necessary?
There are more phones in America than there are people, and each phone needs its own phone number. Beginning in the early 1990s, to accommodate the growing need for more phone numbers, some areas began to add a second area code for local calls. Dialing both the area code and the seven-digit number was necessary to ensure the call reached the intended recipient. As more area codes begin to run out of new seven-digit numbers to assign, a second local area code may be added, requiring that area to transition to ten-digit dialing.
In 2020, the FCC established “988” as the new, nationwide three-digit phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The new three-digit dialing code will be available nationwide by July 16, 2022 and will provide an easy to remember and easy to dial three-digit number to reach suicide prevention and mental health counselors, similar to “911” for emergencies and “311” for local government services. To help facilitate the creation of “988”, area codes that use “988” as a local exchange, or the first three digits of a seven-digit phone number, will need to use 10-digit dialing.
Other Area Codes Affected
The North American Numbering Plan Administrator has a complete listing of affected area codes and resource materials for local government and community organizations. The other area codes in California affected by the change are 209, 530, 562, 626, 650, 707, 949, and 951. To see the list of all affected 82 area codes for customers in 35 states and one U.S. territory, click here.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.