The days of dialing seven digits to call your fellow El Pasoans are coming to an end.
Beginning Oct. 25, all local calls in El Paso will require 10 digits — the 915 area code, plus the seven digits of the number.
The change is needed to comply with a 2020 decision by the Federal Communications Commission to establish 988 as the three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Because some numbers in the 915 area code have a 988 prefix, the change to 10-digit dialing is necessary to prevent accidental calls to the lifeline. The change applies to numerous area codes across the country, including 254, 361, 409, 806, 830 and 940 in Texas.
The Texas Public Utility Commission began a “permissive dialing period” in April in which 10-digit local calls were encouraged in the affected area codes to get people used to the change. The switch to 10-digit dialing becomes mandatory Oct. 25.
The PUC said owners of safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices and alarm and security systems, should check to see if their systems should be reprogrammed for 10-digit dialing. Many systems operate on 10-digit dialing by default, but some older equipment may still use seven digits, the PUC said.
The new 988 number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will become effective on July 16, 2022. Until then, call 1-800-273-8255.