Mandatory 10-digit local dialing starts Sunday in Colorado for those with 719 and 970 area codes

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 3:09 PM MDT|Updated: Oct. 24, 2021 at 11:09 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - If you’re used to dialing just seven numbers when making a local phone call -- that all changes Sunday.

For people in Colorado with 719 and 970 area codes, they will now have to dial the full 10 digits when making a call, even for calls within the same city.

11 News first warned our viewers back in April these changes by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were coming. The reason for the change: a new “988 three-digit abbreviated dialing code to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which goes into effect next summer.

“Starting July 16, 2022, Americans across the country, Americans in crisis, will be able to dial ‘988′ and be automatically connected with a National Suicide Prevention lifeline, and this transition that we’re going through right now is in preparation for that launch,” the FCC’s Paloma Perez told 11 News reporter Nicole Heins.

So why does that affect Colorado Springs and other communities with 719 and 970 area codes? Because both regions allow seven-digit local dialing and have existing phone numbers that start with “988-XXXX.”

“In order to prepare for it, we looked at area codes across the country that were still implementing seven-digit dialing for local phone calls and had ‘988′ as a starting three numbers for their local phone numbers,” Perez said.

The change affects 82 area codes across 35 states. The 719 and 970 area codes are the only ones in Colorado affected.

“If your area code or state did not have those two criteria [the seven-digit dialing and ‘988′ starting prefix], then you didn’t have to make the transition,” Perez said.

Those who solely use mobile phones may not notice much of a difference at all.

“Many of our cell phones already automatically add the local area code even though we only dial seven digits,” Perez said. “It’s really going to be more for our landline users and, really, any type of, if you have a fire or security or burglar system, any type of medical devices that dial locally or something like that. They’ll need to be updated, also any call forwarding settings, voicemail settings.”

While this may be a minor inconvenience for a few days as everyone gets used to the new system, in the long run it will make the suicide lineline that much easier to reach. If 10 digits weren’t required and you pressed the numbers “988,” phone companies wouldn’t know whether your call should be routed to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or if you’re still dialing.

“It’s really to make sure that when that shortcut comes into place, that if you’re dialing ‘988′ and you’re having a mental health crisis, you’re immediately connected with those resources,” Perez said.

“... By adding those extra three digits [to your phone call], you’re helping across the country save a life.”

If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) until next July 16, when it changes to 988.

Read more about the FCC changes here.

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