The Web site for Wayland, Iowa, boasts of “clean, well-kept homes,” but the telephone lines running through town pulse with sultry talk on adult chat lines and a strange number of conference calls.

There’s nothing particularly steamy or talkative about this city of fewer than 1,000 people, just a quirk in telecommunications law that gets certain large phone companies all hot and bothered — so much so they’ve warned of higher phone bills for everyone.