HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii residents will need to press more buttons to make phone calls soon.

Callers will need to dial an area code, even while calling someone on-island.

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Hawaiian Telcom said the change is due to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order. It affects more than 30 states and includes all Hawaii phone carriers.

The FCC approved 9-8-8 as a new three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. The number can be used starting July 16, 2022. All telecommunications carriers and VoIP service providers will be required to take part in the initiative by requiring callers to use the 10-digit dialing system.

“States that used 9-8-8 as a prefix are having to make this transition to add the area code first, even for local calls. That’s what’s going to be required here in Hawaii, dialing 8-0-8 before any number, any local number.”

Ann Nishida Fry, Hawaiian Telcom senior manager of corporate communication

Many are used to dialing seven digits to make local calls, but they will need to include the 8-0-8 area code before those seven digits when calling local numbers starting Sunday, Oct. 24. The call will not go through if the area code is not included.

“If they have their contacts saved in their phones without the 8-0-8, they’re gonna need to add that before October 24th,” Nishida Fry said.

“That’s why it’s important to, you know, do it early, right? You don’t wanna wait till two weeks from now.”

Ann Nishida Fry, Hawaiian Telcom senior manager of corporate communication

The transition will impact cellphones and landlines alike, but there are other devices that might need to be updated as well.

“So maybe your security alarm, maybe if you have a direct-dial sort of device, fax machines, medical devices,” Nishida Fry said. “Those are devices that I would think you tend to set them and you kind of forget about them, so now’s the time to really kind of take a list of, ‘What are the other things that are tied to my phone number, and does it have the local area code added?’”

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline will not use 9-8-8 until 2022, but the change to 10-digit dialing starts on Oct. 24. Until July 16, 2022, customers must continue to dial 1-800-273-TALK to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. 

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Visit the North American Numbering Plan Administrator’s website for more information.
Questions about the change in dialing procedure can also be emailed to 988@somos.com. The FCC also has information about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on its website.