The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted an Order designating 988 as the new three-digit abbreviated dialing code to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline starting July 16, 2022. The FCC’s Order requires all telecommunications carriers to make any network changes necessary to ensure that users can dial 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022.
In Montana’s 406 Area Code, and in 81 other area codes around the nation, the necessary changes include transitioning from seven-digit to 10-digit (area code + telephone number) local dialing. These area codes use 988 as a dialing prefix, and in Montana it was not feasible to require thousands of 406-988 business and residential telephone customers to change their numbers. All other codes previously reserved for abbreviated dialing (such as 411, 811, 911, etc.) have been assigned for other uses.
What Is Changing?
Beginning October 24, 2021, all customers with numbers in the 406 area code, and 81 other area codes impacted, must dial 10 digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls. On and after this date, local dials dialed with only seven digits may not be completed, and a recording may inform you that your call cannot be completed as dialed. If you get this recording, you must hang up and dial again using the area code plus the seven-digit telephone number. This change applies to all telephone providers (landline and wireless) and all Voice Over Internet (VoIP) providers. Telephone providers have implemented permissive 10-digit dialing, so you may begin dialing 10 digits now to prepare for this transition.
What Other Changes Need to be Made?
In addition to changing the way you dial local calls, important safety and security equipment such as medical alert devices and alarm and security systems must be reprogrammed to use 10-digit local dialing by October 24, 2021. Many of these systems operate on 10-digit dialing by default, but some older equipment may still use seven-digit dialing. Please contact your medical alert or security provider if you are not sure whether your equipment needs to be reprogrammed to 10-digit local dialing to avoid interruption of services. Some other examples of services that may need to be reprogrammed include:
- Life safety systems or medical monitoring devices
- Business PBX systems
- Fax machines
- Speed dial lists / speed dialers
- Mobile phone contacts
- Call forwarding settings
- Voice mail services
- Fire or burglar alarm and security systems or gates
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.
What Will NOT Change?
- Your telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
- The price of a call, coverage area, and other rates and services will not change due to the dialing change.If you are unsure whether a specific phone number is included under the Mid-Rivers Direct EAS (“Mid-Rivers to Mid-Rivers”) or other EAS plan, check using the Reverse Phone tab of the Mid-Rivers Online Directory, try your call without the “1” (406-XXX-XXXX instead of 1-406-XXX-XXXX), or contact us.
- Calls that are local now will remain local 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 today 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) now and even after the 988 code is in effect.
For more information, please visit https://www.fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline.