In December the FCC released a proposal whereby all telcos would allow subscribers to dial 988 in order to reach the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
At this time, this is simply a proposal and the FCC is asking for comments (you can read the full text and submit comments here), but it seems likely to move forward. Comments must be submitted on or before February 14, 2020, after which the FCC will review the comments and decide how to move forward.
I don’t see anything here that should concern service providers. Whereas 911 involves a complicated nationwide infrastructure with local PSAPs and emergency call centers, 988 would simply forward to an existing toll-free number (1-800-273-TALK).
So from a technical perspective, you’d need to make a couple of changes:
- Update digit maps on your access equipment (for SIP) or on your switch (for TDM and MGCP) so that the equipment recognizes that 988 is a valid dialing pattern that should be submitted to the switch.
- Update the translations on your class 5 switch to recognize 988 and re-map that call to 1-800-273-8255.
Since it’s a toll-free call, there’s no cost to the telco or to the caller, and everyone already has translations in place to process toll-free calls so it should be straightforward.
At this time, this is just a proposal, so there’s no need to take any action yet. It’s likely that the FCC will make this a formal requirement later this year, at which point you’ll have 18 months to update your network.
Once this becomes a requirement we’ll share a specific MOP with our email subscribers (for the Metaswitch changes required), so if you’re not already on the list, please be sure to join now to make sure you receive that.