Telecoms ask Idaho lawmakers to lift restrictions on calls

Idaho landline phone companies contend that a 13-year-old law forbidding them from cold-calling existing customers is crippling their ability to market high-speed Internet.

Frontier Communications and Century Link are pushing to revamp Idaho’s 2000 law to halt unwanted phone solicitation. The law restricted phone companies from calling existing customers who requested peace from telemarketing.

At the time, long-distance carriers such as U.S. Sprint pushed for that restriction, arguing that Idaho’s main phone company at the time, US West, would otherwise enjoy the unfair advantage of continuing to contact its 500,000 Idaho customers to market services.

Frontier and Century Link insist that those long-distance wars are history — and that they’ll use any new calling privileges appropriately, to not anger customers they want to buy faster Internet.

The telecoms also argue that Idaho’s cable companies, their fiercest competition for Internet services, aren’t bound by the same restrictions.

Frontier has hired a former Idaho legislator, Rep. Jim Clark of Hayden, to help convince lawmakers.

After learning of Frontier’s and Century Link’s plans, however, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office raised concerns that consumers won’t be happy to see privacy protections pared back, noting that there are about a million numbers on Idaho’s Do Not Call list.  (AP)

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