Prepaid wireless phones would be subject to surcharge

Retailers selling prepaid wireless phones would be required to collect surcharge fees under a bill advanced from general file March 29.

Under LB1091, introduced by Valentine Sen. Deb Fischer, prepaid wireless phones would be subject to both the wireless E911 fee and the telecommunication relay system fee. The fees would be collected at the point of sale. Fischer said wireless phones under service contracts already are subject to the fee.

“Prepaid wireless phones account for 21 percent of the wireless phone industry today,” Fischer said. “This bill develops a new method for collecting surcharges on prepaid wireless customers.”

Columbus Sen. Paul Schumacher opposed the bill, saying phone companies currently include the surcharge fees within the price of a prepaid phone. He said collecting the surcharge from customers without adjusting prices would amount to double taxation.

“When you trace where the money really goes, a bulk of it goes back to the phone companies as one of those hidden charges,” he said.

Senators advanced the bill to select file on a 25-1 vote.

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