You may have heard the news that El Pasoans will need to dial the area code before making local calls soon. Here's why.

The news spread like wildfire this week, that El Pasoans will need to start getting used to dial the area code for numbers before making a call. Lots of people were frustrated and annoyed by this, wondering why the hell we have to inconvenience ourselves like this after we haven't had to input area codes into our phones for local calls. And worse, as people explained why it still really wasn't making any sense.

So I'm going to try and explain why to you, the easiest way possible. Back in July of 2020, the FCC made the decision to designate 988 as the three-digit number for Americans to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Order requires all telecommunication providers to make changes if necessary so 988 can be accessed. Ontop of those changes, various Texas area codes will also have to make changes so the 988 number call be reached. The Texas area codes are:

  • 254
  • 361
  • 409
  • 806
  • 830
  • 915
  • 940

Residents in these area codes will now have to dial their three-digit area code before making local calls.

But why? Some numbers in the 915 area code have a 988 prefix.

So what does that mean? It just means some seven-digit numbers (as in, the local number without the area code) start with 988. For instance in the number 867-5309, the 867 is the prefix of the number. So some numbers in the El Paso area start 988-_ _ _ _. If you're calling those numbers and dial 988, your phone would automatically connect with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. That's also the reason you don't see any numbers starts with 911 since that's already an emergency number.

Would it be easier to just ask people with numbers that start with 988 to chance them? Yes, but it would be inconvenient for them. If someone asked me to do that I would be upset, I've had the same number since I was 16 and don't want to go through the hassle of informing people that I have a new number. But also, it might not be a bad idea. Can you imagine all the people I don't want to have my number who have it? Either way, get ready to start dialing the area code before numbers by October 25th, 2021.

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