Local phone calls require area code
Last updated 11/3/2021 at 9:23am | View PDF
As of last week, all phone calls for certain area codes – including 719 – must include the full 10-digit number including area code.
The change is due to a future “988” Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Because some phone numbers across the country have 988 as their local exchange in their 7-digit calls, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has enacted this new protocol to add the area code to eliminate any mix-ups.
A 10-digit dialed telephone call requires entering both the three-digit area code and the seven-digit telephone number to complete the call, even if the area code is the same area code as your own. When an area code transitions to 10-digit dialing, you will no longer be able to dial seven digits to make a local call.
Transitioning to 10-digit dialing will not affect your current telephone number. Your phone number, including your area code, will not change.
There are 82 area codes in 35 states and one U.S. territory that currently use “988” as their local exchange and allow 7-digit dialing. A local exchange, also known as a central office code, is the first three numbers of a 7-digit telephone number. To prepare for implementation of a quick way to dial the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – using only “988” to connect callers to the Lifeline – these area codes must transition to 10-digit dialing for all calls, including local calls.
In Colorado, the two area codes affected are 719 and 970. Beginning in April 24, Colorado customers in those area codes were encouraged to start dialing 10-digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls. This is known as a permissive dialing period because if you forget and dial just seven digits, your call will still be completed. Beginning Oct. 24, the practice became mandatory for all local calls. After this date, local calls dialed with only seven digits may not be completed.
Safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices and alarm/security systems must be programmed to use 10-digit dialing. Many systems operate on 10-digit dialing by default but some older equipment may still use seven-digits. Please contact your medical alert or security provider if you are not sure whether your equipment needs to be reprogrammed to accommodate the upcoming change to 10-digit local dialing.
Some other examples of services that may need to be re-programmed are:
life safety systems or medical monitoring devices
private branch exchanges (PBXs)
Internet dial-up numbers
fire or burglar alarm and security systems.
mobile or other wireless phone contact lists
call forwarding settings
voicemail services and similar functions.
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.
Beginning July 16, 2022, dialing “988” will route your call to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Customers must continue to dial 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) to reach the Lifeline until July 16, 2022.
Why Is Ten-Digit Dialing Necessary?
There are more phones in America than there are people, and each phone needs its own phone number. Beginning in the early 1990s, to accommodate the growing need for more phone numbers, some areas began to add a second area code for local calls. Dialing both the area code and the seven-digit number was necessary to ensure the call reached the intended recipient. As more area codes begin to run out of new seven-digit numbers to assign, a second local area code may be added, requiring that area to transition to ten-digit dialing.
In 2020, the FCC established “988” as the new, nationwide three-digit phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The new three-digit dialing code will be available nationwide by July 16, 2022 and will provide an easy to remember and easy to dial three-digit number to reach suicide prevention and mental health counselors, similar to “911” for emergencies and “311” for local government services. To help facilitate the creation of “988”, area codes that use “988” as a local exchange, or the first three digits of a seven-digit phone number, will need to use 10-digit dialing.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
During the transition to “988”, Americans who need help should continue to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and through online chats. Veterans and Service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing «1» after dialing, chatting online at www.veteranscrisisline.net, or texting 838255.