Local Calls Will Soon Require Area Code

Get ready to update your cell phone’s contact list

By Beacon staff
Dialing seven digits for a local New Hampshire number becomes a thing of the past on Sunday, October 24. Get used to dialing 603, as shown here for the Beacon’s full 10-digit phone number … and get started updating the numbers in your cell phone’s contact list.

Beginning on Sunday, October 24, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandates a change in the way you dial local calls in 36 states, including New Hampshire. Starting on that date, you’ll never again dial just seven digits (i.e. 735-6099 for the Beacon). Instead, you must dial the area code plus the telephone number for all calls, including local calls (i.e. 603 735-6099 for the Beacon). 

This change applies both to cell phones and to landlines.

Once the change takes effect, 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 and the telephone number. 

In addition to changing the way you dial local calls, all automatic dialing equipment that is programmed to dial seven-digit local numbers will need to be reprogrammed to use all 10 digits. This includes your cell phone contact lists! 

Other examples include life safety systems, medical monitoring devices, business PBXs, fax machines, internet dial-up devices, fire or burglar alarm systems, security systems, speed dialers, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and so on. 

To be sure that other people can reach you on the first try, you’ll also need to check your websites, 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.

Why the Change?

The FCC has adopted 988 as a new three-digit number to be used nationwide to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. This change expands on the existing three-digit numbers like 911 for emergency services, 411 for local directory assistance, 211 for health and human services assistance, and so on.

For 988 to work nationwide, 10-digit local dialing (area code plus phone number) must be implemented. (In a few area codes across the country, though not in New Hampshire, you must dial 1 before the area code and phone number.)

The addition of 988 does not remove 1-800-273-TALK as a way to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline, nor does it change anyone’s telephone number, coverage area, telephone rates, etc. 

For more information, visit FCC.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline.