MANTI—A short-lived area code requirement for local calls in Utah ended after only five days.
Manti Telecommunication Co. began requiring its customers to dial the area code as well as phone number for local calls last Wednesday, July 13. However, it took away the area code requirement on Monday. The mandate originated from MTC’s desire to come in line with the Federal Communications Commis- sion (FCC).
A mandate from the FCC required that in most areas throughout the country, customers must dial 10-dig- it phone numbers even within a local calling area. The mandate is associated with the new 9-8-8 number which is now a suicide and crisis emergency hotline.
Phone companies use 988 as a regular telephone-number prefix in 35 states. In all of those area codes, there are phone numbers with a 988 pre- fix (988-XXXX). Per FCC regulations, local callers in those states are now required to dial the full 10-digit phone number, including the area code, in order to avoid the outcome of a 988-prefixed number being preemptively connected to the hotline.
Thanks to the fact that no phone numbers in Utah have a 988 prefix, Utah is exempt from the federal mandate. However, the FCC gave local telephone companies the choice of whether to implement the change.
Dallas Cox, general manager of MTC, said his company did not initially understand that requiring the area code was optional, not mandatory.
The brief misunderstanding actually carries the inadvertent benefit that now MTC numbers are set up so callers may dial either the area code (435) followed by the seven-digit phone number and reach a local party, or they can simply dial the seven-digit number alone.
Gunnison Telephone Company (GTC) chose not to change to 10 digits. Similar to MTC, it has wired their system to connect calls whether someone dials seven or 10 digits. Jim Sanders, president of GTC, said this setup keeps place for the future, when it is anticipated the FCC will require all 10 digits for all calls.
CentraCom has not changed their dialing system, which still allows its customers to dial seven digits for local calls.
The 988 number is now fully operational. If you or someone you know is having a mental-health crisis or feeling suicidal, you can dial or text 988.
The call will be answered by a crisis worker either at the University of Utah or with the new crisis team at Central Utah Counseling in Ephraim. The local crisis-intervention team can sometimes go in person to where the caller is located.