FCC Creates 15-Day Wireless Portability Safe Harbor

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The Federal Communications Commission yesterday announced a 15-day grace period for telemarketers to remove from their calling lists landline telephone numbers that recently have been ported to wireless phones.

Telemarketers will not be penalized for placing automated-dialer calls to such numbers within the grace period, the FCC said. The FCC bans all automated-dialer calls -- including live and prerecorded calls -- made to wireless phones, and telemarketers were concerned about landline phones being switched to wireless without their knowledge.

A database of landline numbers that have been ported to wireless has been available since May. Nevertheless, telemarketers worried that, because they could not update their calling lists in real time, they could still run afoul of the FCC.

Originally, the FCC had said telemarketers could be penalized regardless of the technical obstacles to complying with the rule. However, in its order yesterday, the agency said it was reasonable to give telemarketers time to identify ported numbers.

"Given the limited duration of this safe harbor period and the fact that consumers may continue to avail themselves of the national and company-specific do-not-call lists, we do not believe that this action will unduly infringe consumer privacy interests, which is consistent with congressional intent," the FCC said.

The Direct Marketing Association, which along with the Newspaper Association of America had appealed to the FCC for the grace period, said it was pleased with the FCC's decision. The DMA offers a database of ported numbers through its subsidiary, Integrated Marketing Solutions.

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