The FCC Plans To Make Nearly Half of US Users Dial 10 Digits For Local Calls

P. Gardner Goldsmith | April 15, 2021

It’s becoming more difficult to distinguish government actions from absurdist satire.

Even as miscreant politicians and bureaucrats continue to push residents apart, to force them into Zoom Rooms and into calling for “take-out-pick-up-at-the-door” rather than getting together in person, the unctuous FCC bureaucracy has hatched one of the most insane, time-consuming, expensive mandates in U.S. history.

This is real, and hardly anyone is discussing it.

It took Paul Freely, of the New Hampshire Union Leader, and Tony Schinella, of, to shed some light.

Freely writes:

In six months, New Hampshire residents will have to dial 10 digits — including their 603 area code — for every in-state phone call, state officials said.

The change is part of the rollout of 988 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, according to the Public Utilities Commission.

That’s right. The FCC plans on forcing local callers in New Hampshire to dial TEN DIGITS in order to make those local calls.

And this is not isolated to the Granite State. As Schinella notes:

Residents of multiple states, including New Hampshire, will soon be required to dial all 10 digits to make local calls within their areas codes after the Federal Communications Commission adopted 988 as a new three-digit number to be used nationwide to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Line.

There is some dispute as to whether this is coming in six months, as the NH bureaucrats claim, or 12, as Mr. Schinella reports:

The change in the hotline number doesn't take place for more than a year; until July 16, 2022, people should continue to dial 1-800-273-TALK to reach the crisis hotline.

But, despite the confusion within New Hampshire, the larger, stunning fact remains: the FCC is going to force millions of people to spend tons of time dialing 10 digits to reach others in the same area code – or even to reach others located across the same street. 

And the fact remains that this federal mandate comes from a horde of bureaucrats who decided it would be a great idea to change the long-standing number of an already unconstitutional “suicide/crisis” hotline.

As noted, this does not affect merely those in New Hampshire. 

Writes Schinella:

The three-digit number — 988 — that will be used to reach the suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline had previously been assigned as a prefix in 82 area codes in 35 states and the U.S. territory of Guam.

Schinella offers the list of states/territories targeted by the FCC:

Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Which means that the FCC will force tens of millions to change their dialing behavior simply so that the mercurial minds in the federal government can change their “crisis line” number. 

Was the long-standing “1-800-273-TALK” too hard to remember?

And this isn’t merely a forced change in dialing behavior – as immoral as that is. This is a requirement that tens of millions revise their cell phone directories, change their social media security verification numbers, change their animal leash tags, change their home security systems, change their beepers, and a lot more. Schinella’s report opens the door to the wider ramifications of this utterly insane move.

You'll also have to reprogram automatic dialing equipment — for example, life safety systems or medical monitoring devices; fire, burglary, and security alarm systems; speed dialers; cell phone contact lists; call forwarding services; voicemail services; and other similar functions.

And there’s more…

You'll also have to change your email signature or stationery if they don't include the area code. You should literally think of everything that has your address on it…

That’s not merely “inconvenience” imposed on Americans. That’s a federal mandate forcing such drastic changes in what people have established for their communication systems that it will impose millions of hours wasted to change all of said systems. It’s a mandate on people and their businesses that will force them to spend not just millions, but BILLIONS, of dollars hiring experts to change, check, and test their personal and business set-ups. This will run like a poison, from elderly people with home health systems or with arthritic hands trying to use rotary or digital phones, to massive investment firms in Manhattan trying to handle their employees. It will be so vast a change that an entirely new field will open for people willing to re-set phone systems and make sure they operate properly.

That’s the telephone, a technology over 100 years old.

And these bureaucratic and economic burdens, emphasize the imperative of seeing the deeper lesson.

The key is that neither the “crisis” hotline nor the Federal Communications Commission are sanctioned by the Constitution, and the FCC is a politically-threatening mob that has more to do with Marx’s Communist Manifesto than American confederation.

Related: 'Authoritative' Leftist Call For Internet Speech 'Regulation' By FCC - It's Really 'Authoritarian'

Indeed, Plank Six of Marx’s 1848 Manifesto explicitly calls for a central government bureaucracy to control communications.

Which is…the FCC. 

The problem began during World War I, when the federal government gave AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph) a monopoly on telephonic communication, something the then-head of AT&T, Theodore N. Vail, told people was important for “the public interest,” but really was a way to hammer competition. As Melvin Barger writes for the Foundation for Economic Education:

What Vail invented was a unique way of organizing the system under private ownership while getting government approval of the concept of a ‘natural’ monopoly which should be operated ‘in the public interest.’ A number of competing telephone systems had blossomed in the early part of the century, and in some cases people served by one system could not be connected with people hooked to another in the same area. To Vail, this was wrong and inefficient, and he apparently did not believe that market forces would solve this problem.

Shortly thereafter, with the rise of radio, the feds meddled even more. As I note in Part Six of the MRC’s free online learning program, College Unbound:

“Starting in the 1920s, numerous US politicians began arguing that since radio waves went over state borders, and since the radio spectrum was a so-called ‘limited resource,’ those two factors necessitated and allowed the feds to seize the radio spectrum and dole out temporary permission slips, i.e. ‘licenses,’ for people to use them.

As Thomas W. Hazlett notes, for Reason:

A coalition formed to seize the moment. Major commercial radio stations that had built-up impressive audiences and, by 1926, were forming networks such as NBC, saw a new ‘public interest’ test for broadcasting to be money in the bank. Such barriers to entry could block upstarts and stifle extensions of the radio broadcasting band. At the same time, Hoover and other powerful policy makers, including the estimable Sen. Clarence C. Dill (D-Wash.), author of the 1927 Radio Act, sought to use licensing to gain leverage over broadcast content. In the asserted quest to control interference, regulators could impose an ‘equal time rule’ and restrict various controversial views (by denying licenses when they were deemed to harm the ‘public interest’). Hoover spent years trying before finally succeeding in pushing through a Federal Radio Commission in the 1927 Radio Act.

Congress seized the radio spectrum, and created the Federal Radio Commission (FRC), which issued radio ‘licenses’ based on political glad-handling and delayed the legal debut of television by five years. Once TV was allowed, the FRC was renamed the Federal Communications Commission in the 1940s, and continued to use ‘licensing power’ to shut down political dissent.”

And, as I add in College Unbound, Part Six:

This was, of course, a complete misreading of the original intent of the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, (Article One, Section Eight), which, as James Madisonsaid, was written to provide an avenue to resolve state trade disputes, not to grant politicians power over anything traveling over state borders. Additionally, at any given time, there are only a certain number of usable treeson Earth. That doesn’t mean the feds can seize all the forests and control what goes into printed books.

And it doesn’t mean the feds can control phone lines, either.

This new move by the FCC is a disaster in the making, and if enough Americans protest, perhaps the bureaucrats will back off. 

But that shouldn’t stop us from retaining the bigger lesson about the “crisis hotline” and the FCC being patently unconstitutional and unethical.

This is a big deal. Perhaps we can call friends and let them know.

Related: Students Want to Ban Conservatives From Radio & TV