Telephone numbers used to be two digits.
Then three — at least in Ketchikan.
It’s difficult to imagine simply dialing 24 or 333, 497 or 601.
Within the week, it will be 10 digits to complete a local telephone call.
The advent of cell phones — which many callers use exclusively — already require the entry of 10-digit numbers. They are listed under contacts, meaning it doesn’t even require anything but a name to dial a number.
For those holding on to a land line, typing in an area code before each number dialed will be a prerequisite starting Sunday.
Such changes have taken place through history with the advancement of phone technology. Long gone are the days of hand-cranked phones, switchboards, operators and party lines.
We’ve accepted the passing of each and the arrival of the latest new advancement in phones. We cooperate and continue to talk — text and email — over the phone.
The latest change comes from the Federal Communications Commission. It was approved in July 2020, and its implementation started in April 2021.
The number of phones in the United States exceed population. Each phone has to have its own number.
In order to ensure this, the feds are making it necessary to enter area codes in the 907 prefix. Area codes in about 30 others states will be affected, as well.
Additionally, last year the FCC established 988 as the new, nationwide three-digit phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. As a result, any telecommunications carriers that use 988 in their systems must require customers adopt 10-digit dialing. That includes Alaska.
By making this change, calls won’t conflict with the three-digit lifeline number.
And, that, is a good reason for the change.