The six-month transitional phase designed to get telephone customers in the 337 and 504 area codes of Louisiana used to dialing a few extra digits is underway. The shift to 10-digit dialing began a permissive dialing period over the weekend. The reason for the transition to 10-digit dialing could be truly life-saving, we'll explain.

What Is 10-Digit Dialing?

As you might expect, it means you have to dial all 10 digits of a phone number if you want that call to go through. Most of us when we dial a local number only dial the prefix and then the number. If you haven't done the math, that's only seven numbers.  However, that will officially change as of October 24th of this year. That's when the area code will have to be included even on local calls.

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What is the  Permissive Dialing Period?

That's the time frame we are in right now. The permissive dialing period began on Saturday and will run through October 24th. During this time period, you can still dial a number without the area code and the call will go through. However, you're being encouraged to get used to the idea of dialing that area code.

Why Do We Need 10-Digit Dialing?

Last July the FCC adopted an order that would designate the number 988 as the three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Hotline. There are 82 telephone area codes across the nation, including Louisiana's 504 and 337, that use the prefix 988 in their telephone exchanges. In order to avoid confusion customers in those area codes will need to utilize 10-digit dialing.

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What Does This Mean to Me?

I would say for most of us dialing a phone number is something we don't do anymore. Almost all of us have telephone numbers stored in our smartphones, especially the numbers of the people we call the most. But, if you only have their number listed in your phone as a seven-digit number, you'll want to edit that contact to include the area code, if you want to be able to click your contact and make a call.

What if I Don't Dial All 10- Digits?

Between now and October 24th you actually won't notice any changes. However, after the 24th of October, those calls that you've been making may not go through. So, you could have the frustration of having to dial and then redial differently to reach the party you are hoping to contact.

By the way, the official completion date for the transition to 10-digit calling will be completed by July 16th, of 2022. So, we have more than a year to get this figured out. But, you can mark my words, someone will start whining and complaining about it long before then. Just remember, we're making this adjustment to help save lives.

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