10-digit dialing starts April 24th to prepare for new 9-8-8 suicide prevention hotline

Albany, NY – April 23, 2021 – FirstLight, a leading provider of fiber-optic data, Internet, data center, cloud, and voice services to enterprise and carrier customers throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, is informing customers by request of the Federal Communications Commission through Order (FCC 20-100) that seven-digit local dialing will transition to 10-digit dialing in New Hampshire, Vermont, and parts of New York beginning April 24th, 2021.

The transition to 10-digit dialing is being implemented in order to establish a three-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July of 2022. The lifeline, similar to the way 9-1-1 works, will allow callers to dial 9-8-8 for suicide prevention assistance. The ten digits include area code and telephone number (“1” should still be added for long-distance calls).

Beginning April 24, 2021, consumers with the following area codes should start dialing 10-digits: 603 (New Hampshire); 516, 607, 716, 845, 914 (New York); and 802 (Vermont). This will be a permissive dialing period so that if callers forget and dial seven-digits, the call will still be completed.

Beginning October 24, 2021, however, all consumers in the affected area codes above must dial 10-digits for all local calls. On and after this date, local calls dialed with only seven-digits may not be completed.

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 (1+10-digit) dialing. Many systems operate on 10-digit (or 1+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 (or 1+10 digits) 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.

Some other examples of services that may need to be re-programmed are:

  • life safety systems or medical monitoring devices
  • PBXs
  • 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
  • Voicemail services and other 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.

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 due to the dialing 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+ the area code + 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 (e.g., in a hotel, office building, etc.) as required
  • You can still dial just three digits to reach 711 (relay services) and 911 (emergency services)
  • If 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 or 811 are currently available in your community, 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

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.

You may visit the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) website at https://www.nationalnanpa.com/transition_to_10_digit_dialing_for_988/index.html or email NANPA at [email protected] with questions about the dialing procedure change, or you may visit the FCC website at https://www.fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline.