KENNEWICK, Wash. — You soon won’t be able to dial (or tap, as it were) a seven-digit number to make a local phone call.
A 10-digit dialed phone call requires entering the three-digit area code + seven-digit phone number to complete the call.
Starting October 24, we’re transitioning to 10-digit dialing here in the ‘509’ and several other area codes across the U.S.
Why is this happening? Because a new number — “988” — has been created; it works like 911, but for mental health crises and suicide prevention.
Plus, the powers that be in the federal government and the telephone industry don’t want you accidentally dialing “988” while making normal calls.
‘988’: FCC approves 3-digit suicide prevention hotline
In order for “988” to work, the Federal Communications Commission says 82 area codes in 35 states must make a change, because they use “988” as their local exchange and allow seven-digit dialing.
“Because some numbers are similar to that, because it’s close and has got a ‘9’ in it, they want to avoid people dialing mistakenly,” explained Cheryl McCollum, associate manager of communications at TDS Telecom.
FCC votes to set up 3-digit suicide hotline number like 911
Once an area code moves to 10-digit dialing, if you forget to put in the area code first, you’ll hear an automated voice correct you, which will likely annoy a lot of people unless you get used to it now.
Texting option weighed for upcoming ‘988’ suicide hotline
Though tedious, you may want to add the area code to the beginning of all of your contacts. Yes, take a seat, pull out your phone and add it to each — not fun, but necessary by October 24 or else you’ll get the recording of shame — think “your call cannot be completed as dialed…” And it’s not just your mobile phone that you have to worry about.
- Local phone calls with the 509 area code will be available soon
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