PIERRE — South Dakotans are being urged to start using 10-digit dialing - the 605 area code plus the local number - to make all local phone calls beginning April 24.
The transition is a necessary first step in the Federal Communications Commission’s move to establish 988 as a new three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and will be required beginning as early as Oct. 24, 2021 and no later than July 15, 2022, depending on a customer’s telephone provider, according to a press release from the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission.
In addition to changing customer dialing patterns, the SDPUC recommends taking steps to update all contact lists ahead of the upcoming deadlines.
“An unfortunately byproduct of the FCC’s efforts to establish an easy-to-use suicide prevention hotline number is the upcoming requirement for all of us to use the full 10 digits including area code when dialing a phone number. Whenever possible, preprogram frequently used numbers into your phone to make this conversion easier,” PUC Chairman Chris Nelson said in the release.
The PUC also suggests you take the time to update or reprogram all services, automatic dialing equipment or other types of equipment that may be programmed to complete calls using all seven-digit phone numbers.
“If you take a look at the technology you use on a daily basis or have in your home or office, you may find many devices or services with programmed call settings that will need to be updated. These can include smart home devices, home security systems, medical monitoring devices, calling networks within companies and call forwarding or voicemail services, just to name a few,” Kristie Fiegen, vice chairperson of the SDPUC, said. “Taking the time to update these systems now will help ensure they continue working properly long past the required implementation deadlines.”
The North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) established the set implementation schedule in August of 2020, one month after the FCC adopted an order designating 988 as a new abbreviated dialing code and determined that all area codes where 988 is a working prefix would be required to convert from 7-digit local dialing to 10-digit local dialing prior to the 988 abbreviated code being put into use.
“Be certain to add the area code to all your phone numbers. South Dakota is not the only state required to make this change. Nationwide, over 80 area codes in 36 states will be affected to ensure easy connection to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” said Gary Hanson, a member of the SDPUC.
Beginning July 16, 2022, dialing 988 will route calls to the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. Until then, customers wishing to reach the Lifeline must continue to dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255).