This is long, long, overdue:
(…) Michael W. Morrissey, the Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, is putting forth legislation to impose new regulations on cellular phone companies to make them more responsive to consumers.
The bill, drafted by Morrissey, would force the companies to issue semiannual public reports detailing their signal strength, their dead zones, and gaps in coverage, along with the number of dropped calls.
In addition, the legislation would allow customers with poor service to terminate their contract with their cellphone company without having to pay hefty penalties. Consumers would pay only a pro-rated share of the early termination fee, based on how long they have had their service; currently, customers who wish to get out of a service contract are usually required to pay the full termination fee.
I’m less interested in the spotty service than the coercive long-term contracts. As Howard Dean said rather un-poetically, “We need to re-regulate” — but in this case, it’s re-regulation on behalf of actual unfettered market competition, not the rigged game that the telcos would have you play. Chipping away at the Corporate Nanny State would be a tremendous accomplishment for the legislature and new Governor. How cool would it be to actually have real, fluid competition in cell phone service? Unlock the contracts, and the companies will have more incentive to improve service. Someone else has a better/cheaper phone plan? Go with them!
Keep your eye on this:
A spokeswoman for Senate President Robert E. Travaglini said it was too early to comment.
“The overwhelming amount of public support for some significant change in the cellphone industry was tremendous,” Cummings said. “But at the same time I have to say that each and every company showed up at our hearing and there was so much pressure by the industry it did not come of committee.”
Who runs this state, anyway? If these guys continue to get away with it, why don’t we just call ourselves the Commonwealth of Verizochusetts and be done with it?
BTW, the State House switchboard is 617-722-2000, if you’d like your Senator to hear about this. Or just leave it to the telcos and Senators to hash it out amongst themselves; I’m sure they’ll come up with something good.
(Next challenge: More cable TV and internet competition/A la carte cable.)
UPDATE: … and just why is this legislation overdue? Sharpchick has an idea.