New Mexicans need to start dialing 10-digit numbers

New Mexicans need to start dialing 10-digit numbers

“Most of my friends do what I do,” the unit director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Fe said Monday. “I’m sure it shouldn’t be a problem for most of them.” But others, long accustomed to dialing just seven digits when calling within the area code, initially may stumble when the new guidelines instituted by the Federal Communications Commission kick in on Sunday. Though howls of complaints are almost assured, at least early on, there’s a good reason behind the move, said Mike Ripperger, telecom bureau chief for the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

Richard Mares encouraged his kid to dial the area code first while making a phone call. When New Mexicans begin to acclimatise to a new phone dialling system that needs the inclusion of an area code — even if they are calling within the 505 prefix that serves Santa Fe — Jasper Mares will be ready. Though Jasper, 19, was unaware of the impending change, he said he has been calling individuals with the area code for years.

Highlights

  • “Obviously, if they didn’t make this conversation, when trying to dial 988 and reach a friend across town, you will get the suicide hotline,” he said. “That’s what has prompted the FCC to say, ‘OK, that won’t work.’ So we are going to 10-digit dialing for everybody.” Ripperger said the transition from seven to 10 digits is “no different than a state going through an overlay of a new area code. It’s the same sort of process. It’s just happening on a national level now in multiple states.”

  • In July 2020, the FCC established 988 as a nationwide, three-digit phone number for people in mental crises to connect to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Starting in July 2022, dialing 988 will route calls to the suicide hotline. So, for states with communities that have a 988 prefix — which includes New Mexico and 36 others — dialing that number without the area code will connect you to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which could cause a disruption, Ripperger said.

The suicide prevention line will still be available at 800-273-TALK, even after the 988 service goes into effect. Bridget Dixson, president of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, said in talking with some of her board members, she senses little concern about the three-digit addition. “The consensus is because we don’t have to change our area code, it’s not going to be a big deal,” she said. Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican’s city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

Telephone utility prices won’t change, nor will phone numbers. But automatic dialing systems and other services programmed for seven digits will have to be reprogrammed. Ripperger said the FCC and phone service providers have already been working with some industries — including home alarm and other security systems and medical service companies — to make the transition without any serious problems. “We should be in pretty good shape,” he said. But the switch will require some people to reprogram phone numbers stored in their cell phones, fax machines — “If anyone still has a fax machine,” Ripperger said — and Internet dial-up numbers.