Ten-digit dialing for area code 970 to start later this year

A multi-line telephone system. (Montrose Daily Press file photo) 

Colorado customers with the 970 and 719 area code must soon dial all 10 digits (area code plus the telephone number) to make a local phone call.

Starting Oct. 24, 2021, customers are required to dial 10 digits for every local call. Any outgoing call that has just seven digits likely won’t be completed.

The change comes as the Federal Communications Commission in July 2020 approved 988 as an abbreviated dialing code to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The 988 code will be in effect starting July 16, 2022.

People must still dial 1-800-273-8255 to reach the Lifeline until that starting date, and can continue to reach the Lifeline on that number even after the 988 dialing code is in effect.

For the dialing code to work, customers across the country, including those in 970 and 719, have to transition to 10-digit dialing. Current standards allow local calls to be made with seven-digit dialing and without the area code.

Starting this Saturday, Colorado customers with 970 area codes should start getting into the habit dialing 10 digits (area code plus the telephone number), the Colorado Department of Local Agencies says. It’s known as a permissive dialing period that allows customers to get accustomed to the new dialing method, but allows seven digits calls to go through.

The FCC ordered any area code with the 988 prefix assigned as telephone numbers with seven-digit local dialing transition to 10 digit local dialing so everyone can reach the lifeline using the 988 code.

“The Center for Mental Health is in support of the federal creation of the 988 three digit phone number that would create an easy to remember number nationally for individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis,” said Amanda Jones, chief clinical officer for The Center for Mental Health, in a provided statement. “We look forward to seeing how these rules will impact more resources nationally and for the Colorado Crisis System. Colorado is fortunate to have the state sponsored Colorado Crisis Services line where individuals can call 24/7 and speak to a behavioral health professional to seek immediate support and referral to community resources.

“The Center for Mental Health also supports a local regional 24/7 crisis support line that offers callers immediate access to a behavioral health team to support their call and also can connect them to professionals at the 24-hour Walk-in Center, Mobile Response Team, Withdrawal Management/or detox, Crisis Stabilization Unit as well as next day referral for outpatient services. The process of determining how the 988 number will work is still ongoing and we support the efforts to find a way to create an effective 3-digit number that will work for all communities across our nation and state.”

The 970 area code covers north of Fort Collins and northeast portion of the state, as well as the north of Grand Junction, the Western Slope and southwest past Durango.

The move will come with some required changes. Medical alert devices and alarm and security systems must be reprogrammed for 10-digit dialing. To avoid any interruption of service, it’s recommended to make the change during the permissive dialing period (April 24 — Oct. 24).

Fax machines, speed dialers, voicemail services, life safety systems or medical monitoring devices and more may also need to be reprogrammed to accommodate the switch.

Here’s some more examples of services that likely need reprogramming:

• Private branch exchanges

• Internet dial-up numbers

• Mobile or other wireless contact lists

• Call forwarding settings

It’s also recommended to check your website, business or personal stationary, personal and business checks, contact information, your personal or pet ID tags and advertising materials to make sure the area code is included.

Some items will remain the same, like a customer’s telephone number, including the area code. Price of a call, too, won’t change, and for all long-distance calls, customers will still dial 1 plus the area code and telephone number.

Here are other services that won’t see a change:

• Dialing the prefix “9” when in an office building, hotel or other that is using a multi-line telephone system will continue. 

• People can continue to use three digits to reach 911 (emergency services) and 711 (relay services)

• Local calls now will remain local regardless of the number of digits dialed.

For more information on the change, visit fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline. For a full list of affected area codes, visit nationalnanpa.com.

To reach the Suicide Prevention Hotline, call 1-800-273-8255. The Colorado Crisis Services line is 1-844-493-TALK (8255), and The Center for Mental Health Crisis and Support Line can be reached at 970-252-6220.

Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press

Load comments