You probably don't think twice about dialing when you pick up your phone to make a call. But soon anyone with a phone in Vermont, New Hampshire, certain counties in New York, and 34 other states will need to start making changes to the way they place phone calls. Mandatory changes are forcing a change from seven-digit dialing to ten-digit dialing, and for a good reason.
What is ten-digit dialing?
If you live in Vermont or New Hampshire, you've been able to place phone calls by just dialing the seven-digit phone number. No area code needed. But that's changing this October with a new mandate requiring ten-digit dialing in order for calls to be completed. Those ten digits are the area code followed by the seven-digit phone number.
If you only use a cell phone to make calls then you’re already used to dialing ten numbers to place a call. But for folks using a landline or a business phone, you will need to start making changes in the way you place outbound phone calls. Keep reading to learn why ten-digit dialing is going statewide in Vermont, New Hampshire, and 35 other states.
Why is ten-digit dialing is being mandated?
A new nationwide phone number is coming next year. Starting in July 2022, anyone in crisis will be able to dial 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
To create the 988 phone number some area codes across the country have to go to ten-digit dialing to prevent people from calling 988 by mistake. This doesn't just impact people making phone calls. It may impact your security system, fire alarm, and possibly your call forwarding and voicemail as well. These changes could impact medical monitoring devices and you need to add your area code on checks and even your pet's ID tags. Don't scramble to make these changes at the last minute, a little preparation today will help your company smoothly transition to ten-digit dialing.
How to prepare your organization for the cut-over:
The good news here is that you don't have to make any of the changes today. There's a six-month grace period, but starting October 24th, you will have to dial all ten digits to have your call go through.
To prepare for the transition to ten-digit dialing, update your company's contact list. Think about all the public ways that people can get contact information for you -- your email signatures, business cards, even logo decals on your vehicles. If you advertise your seven-digit number on any of these then you will need to update them with your full ten-digit number.
Any automatic dialing equipment you have will need to be reprogramed as well. Take into account any medical monitoring devices, burglary prevention and fire alarm systems, speed dialers, voicemail services, and call forwarding services. These changes will all take time to implement.
This is six-month grace period is the perfect time to make sure that you get everything updated between now and October. For more information on transitioning to ten-digit dialing, visit the North American Numbering Plan Administrator resource page.
While this may seem like an inconvenience for you, just know that it is for a good cause. Suicide prevention is a critical need in the United States. For well over a decade, suicide has been a leading cause of death in America, accounting for about one death every 11 minutes. Establishing the 988 crisis line will help save lives and connect your neighbors with the support they need. If you need to find help, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat online.