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NY bill would require E911 coverage info, ETF grace period

The American Association of Retired Persons hailed committee passage of a wireless consumer protection-enhanced 911 bill in the New York State Assembly.
The legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell (D) would require cellphone carriers to provide more detailed coverage maps, including where location-based E911 works, to help citizens better use handsets in emergency situations. Other key provisions of the legislation require wireless operators to disclose all hidden fees, surcharges and taxes, and allow subscribers to cancel their contracts 15 days after receiving their first bill without paying hefty penalties. Major mobile-phone carriers already have implemented some of the consumer-friendly reforms sought by AARP.
“New Yorkers, especially older persons, are depending on their cellphones working when they need them, especially during an emergency,” said Lois Aronstein, AARP New York state director. “It’s alarming that New York consumers don’t have all the necessary information they need to know whether their cellphones will work or not; that’s the key reason AARP is pressing for this new law.”
Last year, the State Assembly approved the “Wireless Telephone Service Consumer Protection Act,” and a companion bill was introduced in the Senate shortly before the legislative session ended.
“This legislation would add much-needed consumer protections to the ever-changing and often bewildering wireless world, and will help customers make informed decisions about their cell phone service,” said O’Donnell. “The need for consumer protection in this unregulated industry is critical.”
The Federal Communications Commission regulates the mobile-phone industry, and states have limited jurisdiction over wireless carriers.
Mywireless.org, an advocacy arm of cellphone trade association CTIA, said the legislation would do more harm than good.
“These proposed new regulations would do nothing to improve the quality or coverage of New York’s wireless services. Instead, they could actually make it worse, by raising wireless costs and delaying innovation,” stated mywireless.org.
The group said New York state lawmakers should focus their energies on the 19-percent tax rate millions of New Yorkers pay every month on their bills, the 4th highest in the nation.

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