Introducing The Most Impressive Cell Phone Bill Of The 110th Congress

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) recently announced plans to introduce our wet dream of a cellphone bill. The bill realizes our wildest legislative fantasies: a world where cellphone companies stop inventing official-sounding fees and levying harsh ETFs, and instead allow their customers to take unlocked phones to the company with the best reception according to precise coverage maps provided free of charge.

The Cell Phone Empowerment Act of 2007 would improve the lives of cellphone users by attacking a smorgasbord of the industry’s most eggregious practices:

  • Early Termination Fees: FCC regulations would require companies to prorate ETFs, with the penalty for escaping a 2-year contract cut in half at the end of the first year.
  • Service Maps: Cellphone companies would be required to provide detailed maps showing call quality down to the street level. The maps would be augmented by data on dropped calls and coverage gaps collected and publicized by the FCC.
  • Fee Disclosure: Overage charges would be displayed separately from taxes, and companies would be prohibited from levying any fees, apart from the basic service charge, not expressly authorized by federal, state, or local regulation.
  • Contract Disclosure: Depriving us of a source of many posts, companies would be prohibited from extending contracts without “point-of-sale notification,” and customers would have 30 days to cancel any contract, new or extended. Any contract changes would need to be sent to consumers in writing, and could not take affect for 30 days.
  • Unlocked Phones: The bill would give the FCC a homework assignment: a single-spaced report to Congress on the harmful and anti-competitive practice of locking handsets.
  • Military Exemptions: Companies would be required to release military members awaiting deployment from their contracts.
  • This bill is amazing. Seriously, we like this bill so much, were it not for those pesky Capitol police irradiating everything, we would send the Senators a fruit basket.

    Both Senators are members of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee. They have asked Chairman Inouye (D-HI) to schedule a hearing on the bill, which he should do without delay.

    Klobuchar and Rockefeller Announce Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act of 2007 (Press Release) [Senator Amy Klobuchar]
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    (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)