Slow down rush toward wireless phones, N.J. lawmakers say

The New Jersey is considering a one-year moratorium to prevent phone companies from discontinuing traditional telephone lines and replacing them with wireless alternatives.


Basic landline service is reliable even when there’s a power failure, said Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, D-Somerset. Some residents who use copper phone lines to transmit medical device data to health providers could lose that ability if they are forced to switch to a wireless system.

“Senior citizens and people who are homebound, we want to make sure that they have a lifeline,” he said during a hearing last week.

Assemblyman Dan Benson, D-Mercer, agreed with that assessment, adding that some businesses also may be adversely affected.

“Small businesses that use that service in order to send credit card processing and fax numbers may not be able to do so in a wireless environment,” he said.

Opponents of the moratorium say it could stifle innovation.

“New businesses and startup businesses, they can only compete in today¹s marketplace with this new technology,” said Jim Kirkos, president of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The legislation advanced by an assembly committee calls for public hearings by the Board of Public Utilities to investigate the impact wireless-only services have on consumers and public safety.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal