People making local calls to Lexington phone numbers will now have to dial the 859 area code in addition to the seven-digit phone number as mandatory “ten-digit dialing” took effect Sunday, according to the FCC.
Prior to the change, people making local calls in the 859 area code – which covers Lexington and Northern Kentucky – only needed to dial the seven-digit phone number of the person they were trying to reach. The change to 10-digit dialing was prompted by an effort to implement a quicker way to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, according to the FCC.
“In 2020, the FCC established ‘988’ as the new, nationwide three-digit phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” the FCC said on its website. “The new three-digit dialing code will be available nationwide by July 16, 2022 and will provide an easy to remember and easy to dial three-digit number to reach suicide prevention and mental health counselors, similar to ‘911’ for emergencies and ‘311’ for local government services.
“To help facilitate the creation of ‘988,’ area codes that use ‘988’ as a local exchange, or the first three digits of a seven-digit phone number, will need to use 10-digit dialing.”
Another reason for 10-digit dialing is that there are more phones in the U.S. than people and each phone needs its unique number, according to the FCC. Some areas have added second area codes for local calls to accommodate more phone numbers.
“Dialing both the area code and the seven-digit number was necessary to ensure the call reached the intended recipient,” the FCC said on its website. “As more area codes begin to run out of new seven-digit numbers to assign, a second local area code may be added, requiring that area to transition to ten-digit dialing.”
The 859 area code, which covers Lexington and Northern Kentucky, is one of 82 area codes across 35 states in the U.S. which switched to mandatory 10-digit dialing on Sunday. A full list of area codes making the change was available on the website for the North American Numbering Plan Administrator.
“Local calls dialed with only seven digits may not connect, and a recording will inform you that your call cannot be completed as dialed,” the FCC said on its website. “You must hang up and dial again using the area code and the seven-digit number.”