There are some big changes coming to how people dial a phone number with a New Hampshire 603 area code this fall and the change is for a good reason.

What's the Big Change?

The way we dial local calls has changed over the past 50 years. Until the mid-80s, you only had to dial the last four numbers of a phone number if it had the same first three numbers as you did. I remember when the change to seven-digit dialing happened, it took some getting used to when you were calling someone in the same town as you lived in. This fall you'll, when making local calls, you'll need to dial all ten numbers including the area code if your phone number has a 603 area code.

Why the Change?

In 2020, the FCC established "988" as the new, nationwide three-digit phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Much like 911, it's easy to remember and call when you need help. The problem arises when you only dial seven digits. If the exchange of the number you're dialing is 988 it would route you to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. So it will be mandatory for most people in the country to dial their area code when calling a number like 988-1234 so that the call is routed correctly.

Does This Apply to Maine?

New Hampshire is one of 35 states in the country that is will have to dial their area code. However, Maine is not. Why? Maine does not have any 988 exchanges but New Hampshire does. Since this won't be an issue for Mainers, they can still dial just seven digits while all of New Hampshire will have to dial ten digits.

When Does the Change Take Effect?

Starting October 24, 2021, people with a 603 area code will need to dial ten digits, area code + telephone number for local calls. If you have a 207 area code you can still dial seven digits. If you forget to dial all ten digits where required, you'll get a recording asking you to dial again using the area code.

To prepare for the change, you might want to go through your address book and make sure that all the stored numbers on your phone include the area code so that your calls will go through. Until the change happens on October 24, both seven-digit and ten-digit dialing will work.


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