In October 2020 President Trump signed the Suicide Hotline Act, putting into law a plan the FCC already had in motion to designate 988 as a nationwide phone number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.
I wrote briefly about this when the FCC first proposed the idea, and concluded that this shouldn’t pose any big problems for service providers.
But I missed something.
If 988 is going to become a nationwide 3-digit code, then what happens to the 87 rate centers where some local numbers start with 988 and 7 digit dialing is allowed (or required)?
If someone starts to dial 988… how can we be sure whether they’re dialing a local number, or the suicide hotline?
In the FCC’s final ruling on this topic they’ve decided that these areas need to switch to 10 digit local dialing. They also considered implementing a dialing delay to help distinguish between 988 and 988-XXXX but on balance they preferred to switch to 10 digit dialing to avoid the issue.
7 digit local calls are going away
If you have 988 as an NXX within your NPA and you currently allow 7 digit dialing (see the list from NANPA here) then you’re going to be asked to make some translations changes soon.
The FCC has delegated this process to NANPA (since it’s similar to the NPA overlay process) and the key phases will be:
- Now: start educating customers about this change
- April 24 – October 23 2021: during this window you should start allowing 10D local dialing for all your customers within the relevant NPA
- October 24 2021 – July 15 2022: by the end of this period you should prevent 7D local dialing for all your affected customers
The final deadline for implementation of 988 (which will be re-routed to 1-800-273-TALK) is July 16, 2022 – by which time everyone in the impacted NPAs will be forced to use 10 digit local dialing.
If you need help…
We highly recommend you read the NANPA document about this change, as that has the most specific information.
Metaswitch have published instructions on their Communities website (search for “National Suicide Hotline 988 Short Code”) for how to implement the translations updates. However, if you’d rather we implement this for you, feel free to contact us for a quote.