New FCC rules to require all dialed calls to include area code

By: 
Steve Chapman

Beginning Oct. 24 of this year, everyone who makes a phone call will be required to dial the area code, along with the prefix and four-digit station number, even if they are making a call within the area code. The new requirement is mandated by the Federal Communications Commission, as part of their plan to make 988 the number to call the direct line to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Why it’s necessary
Katie Gorscak, of the FCC Office of Media Relations, said the change is necessary for the new 988 number to work.
“To ensure that calls to 988 reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” she said, “all covered providers will be required to implement 10-digit dialing in areas that both use seven-digit dialing and use 988 as the first three numbers in seven-digit phone numbers. This requirement was put into place so that the networks would know how to route the calls properly.”
Gorscak also said much of the United Stations is already using the required 10 digits when dialing their phones.
“Much of America has already made the switch to 10-digit dialing, and the large reliance on mobile phones also helps reduce the impact of this, as many cell phone providers already require 10-digit dialing,” she said.

FCC suggests callers begin dialing with 10 digits now
While the new requirement doesn’t take place until October, Gorscak said when making a phone call, it is a good idea to go ahead and start dialing the area code with the rest of the phone number, so that when the requirement does kick in, the impact will be minimal.
“Under milestones set by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, consumers in area codes affected by the transition should (have begun) dialing 10 digits for all local calls starting on April 24, 2021,” she said. “Nevertheless, from now until Oct. 24, if someone forgets and only dials the seven-digit number, the call will still complete. But beginning Oct. 24, these consumers must dial 10 digits for all local calls. If they dial with only seven digits on or after this date, a recording will inform them to hang up and dial again using the area code and the seven-digit number to complete the call.”   

The 988 number
To help people facing a crisis get help in a hurry, the FCC decided to create a new three-digit number, similar to 911, to get them help as soon as possible.
“Generally, the number directs callers to local call centers, but the system automatically routes callers to a backup center if the closest local call center is experiencing problems,” Gorscak said.
The number will be available nationwide starting July 16, 2022. However, Gorscak said several cellphone providers, including T-Mobile and Verizon, have made 988 available to customers “well ahead of the … deadline.”
In the meantime, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available nationwide by calling 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK). Help can also be found online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat. Veterans and service members can reach the Veterans Crisis Line by dialing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and pressing “1” after dialing, by texting 838255, or through online chat at www.veteranscrisisline.net.

For more info
More information is available online at www.fcc.gov/document/fact-sheet-988-suicide-prevention-lifeline-10-digit....

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