The state is urging Idahoans to begin practicing 10-digit dialing on in-state calls before it becomes mandatory next August.
Starting Saturday, Nov. 5, landline users will be able to dial 10 digits, including the area code, for local calls, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission said. Cell-phone users can do this already, but landline callers get a “fast-busy” signal, and the call won’t be completed, said Gene Fadness, public information officer.
Saturday also marks the start of a nine-month campaign by the telecom industry to prepare people for the change, especially businesses and people with security and alarm systems, Fadness said.
According to a commission news release:
Come August, a second Idaho area code, 986, will be issued to new telephone numbers around the state. No existing numbers will be changed.
All users will have to dial 10 digits to have calls completed. Long-distance or toll calls on landlines will require a “1” before the area code, just as long-distance calls do now.
The second area code is needed because there aren’t enough 208 numbers left, thanks to increased use of cell phones, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and other technologies. Few states still have just one area code. The 208 code was issued in 1947.
Most phones today allow customers to program numbers and reach contacts with the press of a button or two. Over the next nine months, customers should change seven-digit numbers they have programmed into their phones to include the area code. When mandatory 10-digit dialing begins, no calls without an area code will be completed. Callers will get a recording telling them to hang up and dial again with the area code.
Callers will still dial just three digits when calling 911, 211, 411 and 811.
Check your equipment
Customers should ensure all services such as automatic dialing equipment, software or other types of equipment recognize 986 as a valid area code, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission said.
Examples include life-safety systems, facsimile machines, Internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, security gates, ankle monitors, speed-dialers, call-forwarding settings and voicemail services.
Contact your medical alert or security provider if you don’t know if equipment must be reprogrammed to accommodate 10-digit dialing.