Soon you’ll need to dial the area code before local phone numbers.
In July 2020, the Federal Communications Commission adopted an order approving the designation of 988 as the 3-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. To facilitate implementation, area codes across the country where the 988 prefix is a working prefix and which now use 7-digit local dialing must transition to 10-digit local dialing. This includes the 406, 605, and 970 area code in our service areas.
Starting October 24, 2021, you’ll need to dial the 406, 605, or 970 area code plus the 7-digit phone number to make local calls. In addition to changing your dialing routine, you also have to reprogram 7-digit local numbers to 10-digit numbers if you use speed dial or any other system that automatically makes calls for you.
Why is the 988-prefix changing to a three-digit abbreviated dialing code?
On July 16, 2020, the FCC adopted an Order (FCC 20-100) approving the designation of 988 as the three-digit abbreviated dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, requiring all telecommunications carriers, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers, and one-way VoIP providers (covered providers) to make any network changes necessary to ensure that users can dial 988 to reach the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) starting July 16, 2022.
What is the impact of making the 988 a three-digit dialing code?
In the area codes where the 988 is a working prefix, local calls will have to be dialed using all 10-digits of the phone number, even if they are in the same area code. To complete all local calls, you will need to dial the area code + telephone number (or 1+ area code + telephone number depending on dialing plan). This applies to all calls within these area codes that are currently dialed with seven-digits. In all there are 82 area codes in 36 states that are impacted by this change.