With supporters and challengers speaking out on controversial new telephone technology that would allow customers to know the telephone number of the person calling them, it will be a few years before the technology is available to Kansas customers, a Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. official said.
Debbie Vignatelli, regional community relations manager for Southwestern Bell in Salina, said "Caller I.D." technology would not be available to customers until sometime after 1992.
"Basically, our position is we think it's a good service but there has to be some technological and regulatory things that would have to be worked out before we could offer the service," she said. "It's something we would like to study."
FOR A FEE, Caller I.D. would enable customers to know the number of the person calling them. Supporters say the service would enable customers to fight anonymous telephone harassment, and in some areas of the country it has led to the detection of prank callers.
Others say the service violates wiretapping and privacy laws.
Vignatelli said Southwestern Bell also is studying a service that would block the Caller I.D. system for customers who would want to prevent their phone numbers from being revealed. Customers also would be charged for the blocking service.
She said Southwestern Bell is conducting a feasibility study on the systems.
Vignatelli also said pending legislation could affect the timetable of service in Southwestern Bell's service area, which includes Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri. Southwestern Bell serves about 1 million customers in Kansas, she said.
THE SENATE Judiciary Committee's Technology subcommittee is currently holding hearings on the Caller I.D. and blocking technologies.
The panel is considering legislation proposed by Sen. Herbert H. Kohl, D-Wis., that would require either a per-line or per-call blocking service wherever Caller I.D. is offered.
"I'm sure what happens legislatively, that will speed up the process," Vignatelli said.
She said Caller I.D. and the service to block it, and the fee structures would have to be approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission.
The company would have to install new equipment at its regional telephone offices to provide Caller I.D.
"All of our customers would not be able to receive the service immediately," she said. "As the technology becomes available, they would be able to receive it."