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GCI Supports National Efforts to Transition to 10-Digit Dialing, Launch 3-Digit Suicide Prevention Lifeline

by | Apr 20, 2021 | News, Telecom & Tech

Providers across the country are taking steps to prepare their networks and customers for the implementation of a nationwide three-digit number to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is scheduled to launch in 2022.

To lay the groundwork for the life-saving service, the Federal Communications Commission has directed connectivity providers nationwide to require 10-digit dialing for all calls by October 24, 2021.

As the state’s largest telecommunications company, GCI and its subsidiary, United Utilities, Inc. (UUI), are helping to ensure Alaskans are prepared to make the change from seven-digit dialing to 10-digit dialing for all calls.

The change means that Alaskans will need to dial “907” for every call made to other Alaskans with a 907 area code — even if the individual lives right next door. This additional step for making calls will be most evident for landline callers who manually dial phone numbers. For mobile device users who most frequently make calls to individuals already on their contact list, the impact is expected to be low as contacts already frequently include the “907” area code.

“We understand this will be a change for Alaskans, and we’re here to support them as we make this transition,” says GCI Chief Communications Officer Heather Handyside.

“We expect impacts on wireless customers to be minimal, but we do want to make sure that our landline users get into the habit of dialing 907 and that our business customers are prepared to make changes necessary for business phones and services. We’re encouraging customers to start with small changes now, such as adding area codes to their contact lists if necessary.”

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Alaska businesses will also be impacted. In addition to dialing “907” for outgoing local calls, businesses will need to reprogram their phone’s features, such as call forwarding. Depending on the type and age of the business phone system, a technician may need to make additional updates.

The move to 10-digit dialing may impact any device that dials externally, including: mobile phones, home phones, business phones, fax machines, security systems, fire alarm systems, elevator phones, life alert devices, and more.

The FCC’s order to establish a three-digit nationwide suicide presentation number will give mental health resources the same priority given to other emergency services associated with 911. The service is expected to launch nationwide in mid-2022.

Alaska’s suicide rate is more than twice the national average and is even higher in rural areas. In these areas, where there can be little to no access to in-person resources, online and phone mental health resources are critical.

“When Alaskans dial the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, using the new code, they’ll speak directly to a provider in Alaska who understands and can help,” says Handyside. “We are in full support of the Commission’s effort to make lifesaving crisis intervention and suicide prevention services as accessible as possible by implementing a three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline.”

Currently, those experiencing a mental health crisis can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) and through online chats. Veterans and Service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing, as well as by chatting online at www.veteranscrisisline.net or texting 838255.

GCI is committed to supporting organizations working to prevent suicide in Alaska. Through its GCI Gives Suicide Prevention Fund, GCI has given nearly $500,000 to organizations working to combat suicide in Alaska by promoting mental wellness through strengthened community and personal connections. For more information about the GCI Suicide Prevention Fund, visit https://www.gci.com/why-gci/gcigives/gci-suicide-prevention-fund.

Alaska Business Magazine May 2021 Cover

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