New Fees on Cell Phones
S.277 would impose a monthly dual party relay charge of no more than 10 cents on cell phone service customers. The bill would also impose the same charge on every “wireless retail transaction” involving a prepaid cell phone. All proceeds from these charges would be used to fund the operations of a dual party relay system or TTY (telecommunications device for the deaf, hearing, or speech impaired) system (both systems which allow the deaf to make use of telephone lines). Under current law charges for these services are imposed only on traditional land lines.
This bill was no doubt introduced to make up for a loss of revenues resulting from consumers’ gradual move away from landlines. This change shouldn’t lead to the imposition of more fees, it should force lawmakers to reconsider the program the fees are funding. If lawmakers deem dual party relay, and TTY services as essential functions of state government they should find a means of funding them with existing resources. If they don’t consider these services essential they should let them go.
The current widespread availability of internet and video chat services (think Skype), would no doubt help offset the loss of programs like TTY which were created when such private services were nowhere near as readily available.