Starting Sunday, Alaskans will have to dial 907 for local calls

A public phone outside with water in the background.
A public phone in Juneau on Aug. 15, 2019. (Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Lately, many Alaskans have been hearing this message before their phone calls go through:

Please be aware that mandatory ten-digit dialing begins Oct. 24. From that date on, you will be required by FCC directive to use an area code when dialing, even for local calls.

The reason for the change is over a year old but will officially take effect on Sunday.

Last June, the Federal Communication Commission adopted an order to designate 988 as an abbreviated dialing method for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. That means any area code that uses 988 as a prefix for dialing — the prefix is the first three digits of a seven-digit phone number — will have to switch to dialing the area code as well.

Multiple three-digit codes already exist, like 911, 511 and 411. But unlike 988, those codes were not already in use as prefixes in Alaska.

In addition to manually dialing area codes, people may need to change settings on devices like telemedicine monitors, fire alarms and voicemail services so they’ll keep working after the change on Sunday, Oct. 24.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska says on its website that no phone numbers will be changed because of the new rules, and what counts as a local versus long-distance call will remain the same.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s existing number of 1-800-273-TALK will continue to function after Sunday.

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