by Kim Hart
Two senators last week announced plans to introduce a bill aimed at improving customer service for cellphone users. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), the authors of the Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act, are both members of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the wireless industry.
The bill has some ambitious goals. It would require wireless carriers to prorate early termination fees (a practice already put in place by Verizon Wireless), as well as provide consumers with a detailed service-quality map. The bill would also prohibit carriers from charging any extra fees unless they are explicitly required by state or federal regulations.
The senators are also asking the Federal Communications Commission to take a hard look at handset locking, or the ability of carriers to prevent cellphones from being used with other service providers. That's been a hot issue lately, as some people have found ways to modify Apple's iPhone so that it can be used on networks other than AT&Ts.