Telecommunications Industry Thoughtware

To help more people receive the support they need, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is implementing portions of the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018. This positions 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 to reach the lifeline until July 16, 2022.

To make the 988 number work, mandatory 10-digit local dialing must be implemented in selected area codes across the country. This change will take effect on October 24, 2021. Meaning, if your area code is affected, beginning on October 24, you will need to dial the area code with all 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.

When will the change begin?

Beginning April 24, 2021, callers can begin dialing 10 digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls. If you forget and dial just seven digits, your call will still be completed.

Beginning October 24, 2021, callers must dial 10 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 seven-digit number.

Beginning July 16, 2022, dialing “988” will route your call to the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. Providers will translate these calls to terminate to 1.800.273.TALK (8255). 

Who will be affected?

Not all area codes are included in this change. To find out if your area code is affected, click here

What will you need to do?

In addition to changing the way local calls are dialed, all services, automatic dialing equipment, and other types of equipment that are programmed to complete calls to seven-digit local numbers will need to be reprogrammed to complete calls to 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, personal or pet ID tags, and other such items to ensure the area code is included.

What will remain the same?

  • Telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
  • Local calls, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the dialing change.
  • Local calls now will remain local calls 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.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can still be reached by dialing 1.800.273.TALK (8255).

Sample Letters for Your Customers

We have created two sample letters you can access below to notify your customers of the changes and pertinent deadlines they need to be aware of:

If you have questions or need assistance, reach out to your BKD Trusted Advisor™ or submit the Contact Us form below. You also can visit the FCC website.

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