Ten-digit dialing will be required for all calls in 616 area code

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The Michigan Public Service Commission announced telephone users in four Michigan area codes soon will be required to include an area code in every phone call ‚ÄĒ known as 10-digit dialing ‚ÄĒ as part of the rollout of a new¬†way to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Callers in Michigan‚Äôs 616, 810, 906 and 989 area codes¬†should start dialing with 10¬†digits (area code plus telephone number) on¬†April 24 ‚ÄĒ the start date for¬†what‚Äôs¬†called a permissive dialing period designed to get customers used to the new requirement of including an area code when¬†dialing ‚ÄĒ even for local calls.

Callers who forget and dial only seven digits will still be connected during the permissive dialing period.

The change is in preparation for the¬†July 16, 2022,¬†activation of a new¬†three-digit dialing code ‚ÄĒ 988 ‚ÄĒ to reach the National Suicide Prevention¬†Lifeline. The Federal Communications Commission¬†(FCC)¬†in July 2020 designated 988¬†as the abbreviated dialing code to reach the suicide prevention hotline that provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources, and best practices for professionals.

The FCC’s order requires all telecommunications carriers, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers and one-way VoIP providers (covered providers) to make any network changes necessary to ensure that users can dial 988 to reach the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022. Until then, customers must continue to dial 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) to reach the lifeline.

In many area codes across the country, 988 is already used as the prefix, or first three digits after the area code, of customer telephone numbers. For 988 to dial directly to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, any area code that includes the 988 prefix must transition from seven-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 at this time.

‚ÄúThe schedule laid out by the FCC gives customers in the four affected area codes¬†several months to adjust to the new requirement of dialing 10¬†digits,‚ÄĚ said¬†Ryan¬†McAnany, acting director of the MPSC‚Äôs telecommunications division.¬†‚ÄúA smooth transition will help ensure customers stay connected while getting¬†ready for the¬†ultimate enactment of 988 as an easy number for¬†people struggling or contemplating suicide¬†to connect to resources and help in¬†a¬†crisis.‚ÄĚ

Beginning Oct. 24, all consumers with numbers in the affected Michigan area codes above must dial 10 digits for all local calls. Beginning that day, local calls dialed with only seven digits may not be completed, and a recording may inform you that your call cannot be completed as dialed. If you get this recording, you must hang up and dial again using the area code with the seven-digit telephone number.

Important safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices, alarm and security systems must be programmed to use 10-digit dialing, as well. Many systems operate on 10-digit dialing by default, but some older equipment may still use seven digits.

Any needed reprogramming of alarm and home security equipment must be done during the permissive dialing period from April 24 to Oct. 24 to avoid interruption of services. Other examples of services that may need to be re-programmed are:

  • Life safety systems or medical monitoring devices
  • PBXs
  • Fax machines
  • Internet dial-up numbers
  • 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.

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