LANSIGN, Mich. (WLUC) – Telephone users in four Michigan area codes, including in Upper Michigan, will soon be required to include an area code in every phone call.
Known as 10-digit dialing, the requirement comes as part of the rollout of a new way to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Callers in Michigan’s 616, 810, 906 and 989 area codes should start dialing with 10 digits (area code plus telephone number) on April 24, 2021, the start date for what’s called a permissive dialing period designed to get customers used to the new requirement of including an area code when dialing, even for local calls. Callers who forget and dial only 7 digits will still be connected during the permissive dialing period.
The change is in preparation for the July 16, 2022, activation of a new 3-digit dialing code – 988 – to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in July 2020 designated 988 as the abbreviated dialing code to reach the suicide prevention hotline that provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources, and best practices for professionals. The FCC’s order requires 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 by July 16, 2022. Until then, customers must continue to dial 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) to reach the Lifeline.
In many area codes across the country, 988 is already used as the prefix, or first three digits after the area code, of customer telephone numbers. In order for 988 to dial directly to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, any area code that includes the 988 prefix must transition from 7-digit dialing (dialing without the area code) to 10-digit dialing (area code with the telephone number). In Michigan, that means every customer in the 616, 810, 906, and 989 area codes must make the transition. Customers in other Michigan area codes aren’t affected by these changes at this time.
“The schedule laid out by the FCC gives customers in the four affected area codes several months to adjust to the new requirement of dialing 10 digits,” said Ryan McAnany, acting director of the MPSC’s Telecommunications Division. “A smooth transition will help ensure customers stay connected while getting ready for the ultimate enactment of 988 as an easy number for people struggling or contemplating suicide to connect to resources and help in a crisis.”
Beginning Oct. 24, 2021, all consumers with numbers in the affected Michigan area codes above must dial 10 digits for all local calls. Beginning that day, local calls dialed with only 7 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 with the 7-digit telephone number.
What other changes need to be made?
Important safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices, and alarm and 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 7 digits. 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.
Any needed reprogramming of alarm and home security equipment must be done during the permissive dialing period from April 24, 2021 to October 24, 2021 to avoid interruption of services. Other examples of services that may need to be re-programmed are:
- life safety systems or medical monitoring devices
- fax machines
- Internet dial-up numbers
- fire or burglar alarm and security systems or gates
- speed dialers
- mobile or other wireless phone contact lists
- call forwarding settings, and
- voicemail services and other similar functions.
Be sure to check your website, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, personal and business checks, contact information, personal or pet ID tags and other such items to ensure the area code is included.
What will remain the same?
- Your telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
- The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change.
- What is a local call now will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed.
- You will continue to dial 1 plus the area code and the telephone number for all long-distance calls.
- You will continue to dial a prefix such as 9 when dialing from a multi-line telephone system (in a hotel or office building, for example) as required.
- You can still dial just three digits to reach 711 for relay services and 911 for emergency services.
- If 211, 311, 411, 511, 611 or 811 are currently available in your community, you may still dial these codes with just three digits.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can still be reached by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) even after the 988 code is in effect.
You may visit the website of the North American Numbering Plan Administrator or email NANPA at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about the dialing procedure change. Or you may visit the FCC’s website. You may also contact your local provider with any questions.
For more information, read the MPSC’s Consumer Tip on 988 and 10-digit dialing.
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