Calif. legislators may axe unlisted number fees

California state legislators are moving to end the telephone company tradition of charging residential users to keep their phone numbers unlisted. A bill with that intention earned unanimous support from the State Energy, Utilities and Communications Commission, and it will now proceed to the state Senate, and if continues to gain steam, on to the General Assembly.

Charges for unlisted numbers are as high as $1.99 per month, and the legislative action follows AT&T's act of raising the fee from 28 cents to $1.25 per month, a 346% hike (They couldn't do it more gradually and less noticeably?). Many of those who support eliminating the fees say telcos shouldn't be allowed to charge for something that is connected to the constitutional right to privacy. Telcos say they gain important revenue from unlisted numbers, and that may be especially true in the case of smaller California telcos like SureWest Communications.

Will other states follow California's move? And am I mistaken, or did some telcos in some regions of the U.S. actually reduce unlisted number fees just within the last decade or so? I was looking for more resources on this matter and didn't come up with much in my deadline rush this morning, so if you know of any, please pass them along in the comments section.

For more:
- read this story at The Los Angeles Times