STATE – The state Assembly approved a bill sponsored by Joseph Cryan that would eliminate basic consumer protections and deregulate telephone and cable companies.
Bill A-3766, approved yesterday by a vote of 66-7-4, could result in drastic price increases for more than a million New Jerseyans who rely on a basic landline for telephone service.
About 70 percent of American households still have a landline phone, a 2010 survey by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
Telephone service has long been considered a basic necessity, like electricity or running water, so it was considered a public utility and subject to state regulations.
Verizon wants to escape regulation from the state Board of Public Utilities allowing it to potentially triple rates for basic phone service or force customers to buy a more expensive package that includes cable television, internet and other extra services.
Cryan’s proposed bill also would dismantle other state protections for phone and cable customers, according to a Feb. 17 Star-Ledger Editorial.
“It could free companies from having to correct billing errors or provide a credit when customers experience a cable outage for more than four hours,” the newspaper opined. “It could allow companies to switch your service to another plan without your permission, put off making repairs or simply stop servicing an area if it wasn’t lucrative enough.”
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