If you have been getting weird sounds from your phone for the last couple of weeks when you try to make a call, you’re not alone. It’s happening to lots of people., but the FCC hasn’t told anyone why.
In what seems to be the biggest PR blunder since Healthcare.gov, the FCC changed the way Americans use Google and dial their cell phones and failed to mention it to the public.
Rumors and articles abound on the web about a new plan enacted on July 16th of this year to implement a new area code for suicide prevention access (988) to more than 80 area codes along with mandatory ten-digit calling for local calls. What was explained in a press release from the FCC dated the day before the plan went into effect, was that “beginning on July 16, 2022, you must dial 10-digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls. On and after this date, local calls that are dialed with only seven digits may not be completed, and a recording will inform you that your call cannot be completed as dialed. You must hang up and dial again using the area code and the seven-digit number.”
However, what the press release failed to mention, and what the tech support people at Verizon had an incredibly difficult time understanding, is that on or about July 24, the FCC’s plan also dealt away with dialing 1 on cell phones. If you’re not able to make calls and get a weird beeping sound, that’s the reason why. The plan enacted on July 16 is slated to be completed by October 24th.
Why is this a problem? It’s a problem because virtually every number you click on Google that auto-populates into your phone, automatically includes the number 1 when you dial. If Google hasn’t been told about the fact that their click-to-call feature won’t work for any American cell phone after Oct 24, who is going to tell the approximately 298 Million Americans that they have to edit a phone number before dialing from now on?
Neither the FCC nor Verizon responded to calls. I did have an extended conversation with a very unhelpful agent at Verizon who could not understand why I did not find it so much easier not to have dial 1 anymore when I made calls. I suggested she might offer me her name and number so that she could explain that to the 30-plus million seniors in this country who will have difficulty making calls from now on because of this silent policy change, but she failed to see the value in that kind of service. Furthermore, I also didn’t bother reaching out to Google, as finding a human to talk to at Google about anything besides ad sales is almost as effective as talking to the IRS about taxes.
But what is clear is if you get this sound when you make a call from now on, it has something to do with the FCC and no one told anyone about it.
Thumbnail Credits: Christopher German