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A roundup of the latest high-tech news “Hot Off the Wire” from The Associated Press and Local Tech Wire:

• Schumer wants to slow exodus of U.S. call centers

ALBANY, N.Y. — In an effort to slow the exodus of U.S. telephone work to overseas services, Sen. Charles Schumer is introducing legislation that would impose an excise tax on companies that transfer calls with American area codes to foreign call centers.

The measure would also require telling U.S. customers that the call is being transferred and to which country.

Companies use call centers to give customers technical product support, answer billing questions or provide other information. They often use several operators.

The fee would be 25 cents for calls transferred to foreign countries. There would be no fee for a domestic call center. Companies would have to report quarterly their total customer service calls received and the number relayed overseas.

"If we want to put a stop to the outsourcing of American jobs, then we need to provide incentives for American companies to keep American jobs here," Schumer said last week. The New York Democrat said the excise tax would "also provide a reason for companies that have already outsourced jobs to bring them back."

In a survey of American economists in 2006, Robert Whaples found nearly 90 percent agreed the U.S. should eliminate remaining protectionist tariffs and trade barriers, like the new one Schumer is proposing, that there are lower costs and a net gain from free trade. Most also agreed the U.S. should not restrict American employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries.

For American consumers, Schumer said his measure would also guarantee they know where their personal information is being kept, whether that’s a bank account number, credit background or medical history. He said come countries do not have to adhere to consumer protection laws similar to those in the United States.

The most popular countries for outsourcing of U.S. call centers are India, Indonesia, Ireland, Canada, the Philippines, and South Africa, most with an ample supply of English-speaking, low-wage workers. American companies use them to cut costs.

From 2001 to 2003, the United States lost 250,000 call center jobs to India and the Philippines, according to Technology Marketing Corp., a Norwalk, Conn.-based company specializing in call centers and telemarketing.

However, a 2007 Cornell study found that most call centers serving U.S. customers were operated in the United States. The report, with 40 researchers from 20 countries, examined center management and employment practices in Asia, Africa, South America, North America and Europe, covering almost 2,500 centers in 17 countries.

The study found most centers, except India, served domestic markets. Two-thirds were in-house for companies serving their own customers and had lower turnover rates than subcontractors. Also, turnover, ranging from 25 to 50 percent annually depending on the sector, steeply reduced productivity.

• Fitch Ratings boosts oracle

CHICAGO — Fitch Ratings has raised raised Oracle Corp.’s (Nasdaq: ORCL) rating outlook as the business software giant continues to rake in cash from operations.

Fitch raised Oracle’s outlook to "positive" and affirmed investment grade ratings for about $18.7 billion of debt.

Fitch said Oracle has posted annual free cash flow of more than $7 billion since fiscal 2008. Oracle also has cash and short-term investments of $18 billion and $3 billion available through a revolving credit facility.

Fitch is forecasting free cash flow of $7.6 billion for Oracle’s fiscal 2010 and $8.9 billion for next year, which reflects a full year of results for Sun Microsystems Inc., which Oracle bought in January.

Business should improve as long as the uptick in economic recovery remains, Fitch said.

• FCC: 30M Americans face “bill shock” for data use

WASHINGTON — Roughly 30 million Americans, or 1 in 6 wireless users, have been hit with unpleasant surprises on their cell phone bills for exceeding roaming or data usage limits, according to a new government survey.

The survey by the Federal Communications Commission found that more than a third of people who experienced such "bill shock" said their bills jumped by at least $50. And 23 percent said their bills soared at least $100.

Joel Gurin, who heads the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, said it is too early to say whether the FCC will impose broad new regulations on wireless carriers or push the industry to adopt voluntary consumer protection standards. But the commission is clearly ramping up oversight of business practices in a market dominated by four national carriers, led by AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless.

In mid May, the FCC said it is considering rules that would require wireless companies to alert consumers before they reach roaming or data caps on their plans. The rules would be modeled after European Union regulations that require wireless companies to send a text message to customers who are running up roaming charges or approaching data limits.

The FCC also is looking into whether wireless companies give customers adequate notice about early termination fees, which apply when a service contract is broken before it expires. The new survey found that 47 percent of wireless customers who have calling plans with an early termination fee did not know the amount.