906-293-8401 nbynews@jamadots.com

Gone are the days when we could call from Newberry to Newberry with just four numbers.  And very soon, it’ll be impossible to dial within town or to any location without dialing the full 10-digit phone number.

The time is quickly approaching for telephone users in Michigan’s 616, 810, 906, and 989 area codes to include an area code with every phone call — known as 10-digit dialing — in preparation for the rollout of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

In just one month, beginning  October  24, all phone customers with numbers in the affected Michigan  area codes above must dial 10  digits for all  local  calls.  After that date, calls that don’t include an area code will not be completed. Instead, a recording may inform you that your call cannot be completed as dialed.  If you receive this recording, you must hang up and dial again using the area code with the  7-digit telephone number.

October 24 also marks the end of the permissive dialing period that began in April, in which calls dialed with either 7 digits or 10 digits would still be completed.

Important safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices and alarm and security systems must be programmed to use 10-digit dialing by Oct. 24.  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.

Other examples of services that may need to be re-programmed are: life safety systems or medical monitoring devices, fax machines, fire or burglar alarm and security systems or gates, speed dialers, etc.

The Federal Communications Commission  in July 2020  designated 988 as the abbreviated dialing code to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for free and confidential support for people in distress or crisis. (Until then, customers should continue to dial 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) to contact the Lifeline.)

In many area codes across the country, including in Michigan, 988 is already used as the prefix, or first three digits  after the area code of a customer’s telephone number.  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.

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 not change?

  • 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.
  • A local call 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.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can still be reached by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) even after the 988 code is in effect.