Local callers encouraged to start dialing 808

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Hawaii residents are being encouraged to get in the habit of dialing the Hawaii area code, 808, when making local calls. Hawaiian Telecom announced today that it will begin its transition to “ten-digit dialing” on April 24, six months before the change will be mandatory.

The change is the result of a recent decree by the Federal Communications Commission.

In order to elevate the visibility and availability of crisis counseling and related services, the FCC has designated the three-digit phone number “988” as the official phone number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. “988” joins other quick dial numbers like “911” for emergency services, “411” for information, and “211” for social services.

Hawaii is one of 36 states that had put the phone number prefix “988” into regular use. In order to support the newly reserved number for the suicide hotline, all local calls in Hawaii will require dialing all ten digits, inclusive of the “808” area code.

This change is being required of all affected U.S. telecommunications carriers, including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers.

Between April 24 and October 23, 2021, Hawaiian Telcom will support a “permissive dialing period” when 10-digit dialing is encouraged but seven-digit calls will still go through. Beginning on October 24, 2021, however, callers in Hawaii must dial 10 digits (area code + telephone number) or local calls will be not be completed.

“988” will officially become a national three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in July of next year.

This change will require consumers to update their contact lists and phone numbers saved in their mobile phones. Organizations that provide safety and security equipment, such as medical alert and monitoring devices, and alarms, security systems and gates must also be programmed to use 10-digit dialing by October 24, 2021 to avoid interruption.

Other devices and services that may need to be re-programmed include:

  • PBXs
  • Fax machines
  • Internet dial-up numbers
  • Speed dialers
  • Call forwarding settings
  • Voicemail services and other similar functions

Hawaiian Telcom encourages Hawaii residents to check their business stationery, advertising materials, websites, personal and business checks, and other publicly provided contact information. In addition, personal or pet ID tags, and other such items should be updated to ensure the area code is included.

What will remain the same?

  • Your telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
  • The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the dialing change.
  • What is a local call now will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed.
  • You will continue to dial 1+ the area code + telephone number for all long-distance.
  • You will continue to dial a prefix (such as “9”) when dialing from a multi-line telephone system (e.g., in a hotel, office building, etc.) as required.
  • You can still dial just three digits to reach 711 (relay services) and 911 (emergency services).
  • If 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 or 811 are currently available in your community, dial these codes with just three digits.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can still be reached by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) even after the 988 code is in effect.

Beginning July 16, 2022, dialing “988” will route your call to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Prior to this, callers must dial 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

For more information, please visit the North American Numbering Plan Administrator’s (NANPA) website, email questions about the dialing procedure change to NANPA at 988@somos.com, or visit the FCC’s website at fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline. Hawaiian Telcom customers may also visit hawaiiantel.com/dial808 for more information.

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