Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 3:46am
STATE GROUPS FIGHT PRE-EMPTION FOR WIRELESS INDUSTRY TELECOM BILL
[SOURCE: Technology Daily, AUTHOR: David Hatch]
A broad coalition of state utility groups, attorneys general and watchdogs urged lawmakers to kill a proposal to pre-empt state regulation of the wireless industry. The language -- part of a comprehensive telecommunications overhaul measure that cleared the Senate Commerce Committee in late June -- would place the FCC in charge of handling wireless customer complaints. "Why is this section in the bill today?" Billy Jack Gregg, director of the consumer advocate division of West Virginia's Public Service Commission, asked rhetorically at a briefing for Hill staffers. Answering his own question Gregg asserted, "One reason: CTIA, the cellular association, got it in there. Why? For consumers? No. For the wireless industry" -- so that it could avoid state regulatory oversight. Gregg and other speakers said state regulators would lose the ability to resolve disputes involving billing, contracts, coverage areas, deceptive practices and other concerns if the language is enacted. Jeannine Kenney, a senior policy analyst at Consumers Union, insisted the FCC does not have the resources to handle customer complaints.