Changes sought for cell phone fees

WASHINGTON — The head of the Federal Communications Commission said Friday he wants to regulate fees charged to cell phone users who cancel their wireless contracts early.

At a news conference, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin would not say whether he endorses an industry plan to help consumers avoid "early termination fees" as detailed by the Associated Press last week.

But Martin said he supports regulating the fees at a federal level, even if it affects a series of class-action lawsuits against carriers in state courts.

Martin said industry and consumer groups were negotiating to reach an agreement to ease the fees. Cell phone companies routinely charge customers $175 or more for quitting their service early. Under the wireless industry proposal, consumers would have the opportunity to cancel service without any penalty for up to 30 days after they sign a cell phone contract or until 10 days after they receive their first bill.

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