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Landlines to implement 10-digit codes in 2021

The switchboard and lineman as part of the Main Street exhibit at the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center.
R-C File Photo

A new resident of La Costa in Minden sought to install a landline last month, only to learn that the phone company didn’t run a line to the neighborhood.

The National Center for Health Statistics reports 61.3 percent of adults lived in households solely served by wireless phones as of 2019.

That might explain the lack of fanfare accompanying the approval by the Federal Communications Commission of a plan to require all phone calls to use the area code by Oct. 24.



The change was required by the implementation of the 988 phone number to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Members of the Douglas County 911 Committee heard a report from Supervisor Ron Sagen that the change will begin April 24 when residents should start dialing the area code with the seven-digit number.



“This is a good thing,” Sagen said. “I know it seems silly to dial 10 digits to get across the street.”

However, he pointed out that someone who might be in crisis would have difficult calling an 800 number.

“This is going to affect everything we do,” Sagen said.

Fortunately, when Douglas County implemented its 911 phone system, it included area codes from the start.

However the county’s internal offices are going to have to reprogram the phone system.

“This is not an opt-in,” Sagen said. “It’s going to happen. What I’m surprised about is that I haven’t herd a thing in the national media about this thing.”

Chairman Larry Werner said he, too, thought it would be a national story.

Cell phones tend to be programmed with 10-digit numbers and so they won’t be affected as much.

Sagen said phone numbers will remain the same, as will the cost of a local phone call. He said local callers won’t be required to include 1 before the number.

The reason for the change is that the national network has run out of numbers that end in 11, like 911 or 611. 

Repurposing one of those numbers would require time and there would be several thousand people still calling the number for its original purpose.

The 988 number isn’t used as a geographic area code in the United States, according to the FCC, and has fewer corresponding central office code assignments than other codes that were considered.