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Pacific Bell Caller ID to Start July 8

June 27, 1996|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Pacific Bell said Wednesday that it plans to begin its problem-plagued Caller ID service in California on July 8, almost a month after the service was supposed to begin.

Caller ID acts as an electronic peephole that allows the person being called to see the phone number of the person placing the call. Callers who don't wish to have their numbers displayed can either have the service blocked for all calls or block it on individual calls.

Pacific Bell abruptly canceled its plans to start Caller ID service June 15, after acknowledging that it had sent out numerous inaccurate letters to customers about which blocking option they had chosen.

The phone numbers of callers who have not requested blocking will be displayed on out-of-state calls--for recipients with the equipment to display them--beginning Monday, under orders from the Federal Communications Commission, said Mark Pitchford, vice president of consumer marketing for Pacific Bell. "We are confident that customers have the blocking options they requested, so their blocking will be in place before then," he said.

Caller ID is already available to GTE Corp. customers in California.

Pitchford said a check of 6.5 million requests from customers for blocking options found phone company errors in some cases. He said the error rate was less than 1%.

Pacific Bell has roughly 12 million residential customers and 5 million business customers in California, where it has about 75% of the local phone service market.

Since June 15, Pacific Bell has been passing unblocked phone numbers to other phone companies within the state, including GTE. Come July 1, unblocked numbers will be passed all over the country--except to Pacific Bell's Caller ID customers in California. Their service will not start up until July 8, said spokesman David Dickstein.

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