Is your VoIP phone system ready for the changes coming on October 24, 2021? A 2020 ruling by the FCC requires dozens of states using the 988 area code to switch to ten-digit dialing by this date.
You’re free to use ten-digit dialing ahead of time, but if your business hasn’t made the change yet, you soon won’t be able to place phone calls. Not sure what the change means or how your business can comply? Learn more about the FCC’s ten-digit dialing change and the 5 things you need to do to be compliant.
What is ten-digit dialing?
In July of 2020, the FCC approved “988” as the new three-digit abbreviation for dialing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Much like how you can dial 911 for emergency services or 311 for non-emergency help, 988 will become the go-to abbreviation across the United States for people in need of mental health intervention.
However, this seemingly simple change affects every state that uses 988 as a local area code. To minimize confusion and ensure people get the help they need, the FCC is requiring ten-digit dialing for all phone calls (local and long-distance) in locations with 988 area codes. This will make it clear when someone is trying to dial a local number and not the suicide lifeline.
Before the change, you were able to dial local phone numbers simply by dialing a seven-digit code (XXX-XXXX). On October 24, 2021, phone carriers will be required to complete calls that use ten digits instead of seven (XXX-XXX-XXXX).
How to comply with ten-digit dialing requirements
While the FCC requires phone systems to meet this requirement by October 24, 2021, the change won’t actually go into effect for consumers until July 16, 2022. But your business is still on the hook for updating your practices.
35 US states and 82 area codes are affected by this change. Keep in mind that the ten-digit dialing requirement doesn’t affect every US state; it only applies if your local area code uses “988.” Double-check the National NANPA checklist to see if you’re in an area that requires ten-digit dialing.
If you’re required to switch from seven-digit to ten-digit dialing, your business needs to meet several requirements, including these 5 conditions:
- Hassle-free dialing: You can’t require users to dial an additional prefix digit to place an outside call to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. For example, if users typically have to dial “9” to place outside calls, you’ll have to remove that requirement for any calls to 988.
- Requiring ten-digit dialing: If your phone systems still allow seven-digit dialing, you won’t be able to place calls. As of October 24, 2021, you can no longer connect seven-digit dials. After this date, local calls dialed with seven digits won’t connect, and a recording will play saying you can’t complete the call as dialed. You will have to hang up and re-dial with the full ten-digit number.
- Reprogram and test your systems: If you’re using an older VoIP system, you need to make sure that it isn’t using seven-digit dialing. Reprogram and test it to ensure you’re meeting FCC requirements by October 2021.
- Checking your old equipment: While your phone number is the biggest priority, any equipment or software that uses a dialing system may need updates. This includes auto dialers, fax machines, and even medical alert systems. Make sure that your internal technologies and your customer-facing devices are prepared for the switch to ten-digit dialing.
- Update your phone number: Whether it’s on your website, social media, ads, or business cards, be sure to update your phone number to the ten-digit number. If someone tries to dial your old seven-digit number, they won’t be able to reach you at all.
The good news is that the switch to ten-digit dialing won’t change very much for your business. This change won’t affect your phone number or the cost to place phone calls.
How can Dice help?
The new 988 abbreviation will save thousands of Americans when it goes live on July 16, 2022. In the meantime, your organization needs to make changes to your telephony systems to comply with the FCC’s new 988 guidelines.
But you’re juggling other priorities; getting up to speed with the FCC’s guidelines in a matter of weeks is no small task. Rely on Dice Communications to audit your telephone system, reprogram your equipment as needed, and ensure you’re up-to-date with ten-digit dialing requirements. See how we help businesses with smart, compliant VoIP that works as hard as you do.