The Texas Public Utility Commission says that as of October 24, 2021, the 409 area code will be one of seven across the state in which residents will be required to first dial the area code before entering the remaining seven numbers to make a local telephone call.
On July 16, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an Order (FCC 20-100) approving 988 as the three-digit abbreviated dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Order requires all telecommunications providers (including telecommunications carriers, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol [VoIP] providers, and one-way VoIP providers [covered providers]) to make any network changes necessary to ensure 988 access by July 16, 2022.
Several Texas area codes (254, 361, 409, 806, 830, 915, and 940) have numbers with a 988 prefix. Therefore, those areas must transition from seven-digit to 10-digit local dialing.
April 24, 2021, marks the beginning of a “permissive dialing period” in which callers in those area codes can still complete a call with seven-digit dialing. When that period expires on October 24, 2021, local calls dialed with only seven digits will reach a recording prompting them to hang up and dial again using both the area code with the seven-digit telephone number.
Important safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices, and alarm and security systems must be programmed to use 10-digit dialing. Many systems operate on 10-digit dialing by default, but some older equipment may still use seven digits. Please contact your medical alert or security provider if you are not sure whether your equipment needs to be reprogrammed to accommodate the upcoming change to 10-digit local dialing. Any needed reprogramming of alarm and home security equipment must be done during the permissive dialing period from April 24, 2021, to October 24, 2021, to avoid interruption of those services.
Some other examples of services that may need to be re-programmed are:
- life safety systems or medical monitoring devices
- fax machines
- Internet dial-up numbers
- fire or burglar alarm and security systems or gates
- speed dialers
- mobile or other wireless phone contact lists
- call forwarding settings
- voicemail services and other similar functions
Customers should also ensure the area code is included in all other places where a telephone number is displayed like their websites, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, personal and business checks, and even personal or pet ID tags.