Residents in the 414 area code of Wisconsin, which is primarily in the Greater Milwaukee area, were required to dial the area code plus phone number for all local calls from October 24, 2021.

On and after this date, local calls dialed with only seven digits may not be completed, and a recording may inform customers that the call cannot be completed as dialed. The recording will ask customers to please hang up and redial with 10 digits. In Wisconsin, the 262, 414, 608, and 920 area codes are affected by the switch to 10-digit dialing.

TDS Telecom (TDS) alerted its customers in Wisconsin about the upcoming changes. Before October 24, customers were notified to reprogram automatic dialing equipment and other devices with seven digits. Residents and businesses should check with security or alarm companies to make sure their systems are programmed to handle the new 10-digit dialing pattern.

Products that will need to be changed to 10-digits could include: life safety systems, VoIP and Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems, electronic telephone sets, auto-dial systems, multi-line key systems, fax machines, internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, gates, speed dialers, call forwarding settings, and voicemail services. All such devices will need to be reprogrammed with 10-digits by October 24, 2021.

Residents and businesses are also reminded to check their business stationery or advertising materials to ensure the area code is included. Many people already have to use 10-digit dialing because of area code “overlays,” regions where more than one area code is assigned because of demand for phone numbers.

The new change to 10-digit dialing will prevent people from calling the new 9-8-8 emergency phone line by mistake. Providers in 36 states, including Wisconsin, must transition to 10-digit dialing systems to ensure 9-8-8 calls reach the lifeline. Beginning July 16, 2022, dialing 9-8-8 will connect people to the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline, as proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The FCC hopes that a shorter, easy-to-remember number will more efficiently provide people with help when they need it most. However, until July 16, 2022, people should continue to call 1-800-273-TALK to reach the Lifeline. In an emergency that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire department, or ambulance, dialing 911 and 711 – a relay service used by people who are deaf or hearing impaired – remain the three digit numbers that customers should use.

Important issues to note are that phone numbers and area codes will remain the same, and long-distance calls will still be made by dialing 1 + area code + phone number.

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