Why can't I make local calls without an area code?
10-Digit dialing required in many areas starting October 24
In 19 states and 28 area codes that TDS serves, customers will soon have to dial 10 digits (area code + telephone number) when making a local call. While some may see it as an inconvenience, this change is needed to implement an important Congressional and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) action to help save lives.
The National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act ordered the creation of a three-digit number for a National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and this new easy-to-remember number (9-8-8) will pave the way for suicide prevention and mental health crisis intervention services for those who need it.
10-digit local dialing will be implemented Oct. 24, 2021. This change is being implemented to prepare for the launch of the 988-crisis hotline number on July 16, 2022. Customers must continue to dial 1-800-273-TALK to reach the Lifeline until July 16, 2022.
Here are some frequently asked questions about this change:
Who will be affected and when?
If you currently make local calls using a seven-digit phone number, you will need switch to 10-digit local dialing (area code + telephone number) beginning on Oct. 24. On and after this date, local calls dialed with only seven digits may not be completed. A recording may tell you that your call cannot be completed as dialed and to hang up redial with 10 digits.
Refer to the image for a list of TDS impacted states and area codes.
What else do I need to change?
In addition to changing your dialing habits, you’ll need to update systems in your home or business that use automated dialing. Any equipment currently programmed to automatically dial seven-digit numbers will need to be reprogrammed to complete calls to 10-digit numbers.
Here are examples of equipment/systems that may need to be reprogrammed:
- Life safety systems or medical monitoring devices
- PBX business systems
- Fax machines
- 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
Also 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.
Will this change cost me more?
No. Even though you’re using 10-digit dialing, it will remain a local call. This means the price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the dialing change.
Is anything else changing?
- Your telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
- You will continue to dial 1 + area code + telephone number for all long-distance calls.
- You can still dial 711 for relay services, and 911 for emergency services.
- Any 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, or 811 services available in your community can still be reached by dialing their 3-digit codes.
When will the 988 Suicide Lifeline number be available?
Beginning July 16, 2022, dialing 988 will route your call to the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. Customers must continue to dial 1-800-273-TALK to reach the Lifeline until July 16, 2022.
Who can I contact?
If you have any questions regarding information provided in this notice, please call TDS at 1-888-CALL-TDS. You can also visit the FCC website at https://www.fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline.
We have one more tip for you as you get used to this new way of making a local call: Don’t doddle when you dial. Today’s phone systems require you to enter the phone number with only three seconds or less between digits. If you don’t, you’ll get an error recording. To combat this, have the number ready before you make a call. Also, if your phone supports it, you could also enter the number you wish to dial before you hit the Talk or Call button.