On July 16, 2020, the FCC adopted an Order (FCC 20-100) approving 988 as the three-digit abbreviated dialing code to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline starting July 16, 2022. The 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.
In order for 988 to work in the Delaware 302 area code, every customer with a number in that area code with seven-digit local dialing must be transitioned to 10-digit dialing. The FCC ordered that any area code that has the 988 prefix assigned as telephone numbers and has seven-digit local dialing be transitioned to 10-digit (area code + telephone number) local dialing to ensure everyone is able to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline using the three-digit 988 code.
Beginning April 24, 2021, consumers with numbers in the 302 area code should start dialing 10–digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls. This is known as a “permissive dialing period” because if you forget and dial just seven–digits, your call will still be completed.
Beginning October 24, 2021, all consumers with numbers in the 302 area code must dial 10-digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls. On and after this date, 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.
What other changes need to be made?
Important safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices, and alarm and security systems must be programmed to use 10-digit dialing. Many systems operate on 10-digit dialing by default but some older equipment may still use seven-digits. Please contact your medical alert or security provider if you are not sure whether your equipment needs to be reprogrammed to accommodate the upcoming change to 10-digit local dialing. Any needed reprogramming of alarm and home security equipment must be done during the permissive dialing period from April 24, 2021 to October 24, 2021 to avoid interruption of services.
Some other examples of services that may need to be re-programmed are:
Be sure to check your website, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, personal and business checks, contact information, your personal or pet ID tags, and other such items to ensure the area code is included.
What will remain the same?
Beginning July 16, 2022, dialing “988” will route your call to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Customers must continue to dial 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) to reach the Lifeline until July 16, 2022.
You may visit the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) website at https://www.nationalnanpa.com/transition_to_10_digit_dialing_for_988/index.html or email NANPA at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about the dialing procedure change, or you may visit the FCC website at https://www.fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline.