Cell Phone 'Bill of Rights' Debated on Beacon Hill Today

By Emelie Rutherford / Daily News Staff

BOSTON -- While lawmakers want to help Massachusetts wireless customers dodge "dead zones" and unwanted contracts, the industry is balking at a proposed Cell Phone Users' Bill of Rights it said would lead to higher prices.

Both sides will face off today over the legislation that would ban wireless carriers in Massachusetts from offering contracts for more than a year and from extending contracts without the customer's written permission.

Additional protections include requiring the carriers to give customers 30 days to cancel their contracts without penalty, easy-to-understand bills, clear explanations of fees and precise coverage maps.

Under the bill of rights state regulators also would monitor service quality, such as dead zones and signal strength, and handle billing disputes.

If the bill of rights passes, Massachusetts would be the only state to have such a consumer protection system for cell phone users.

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