TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two advocacy groups were warning that deregulating phone service in New Jersey would lead to higher rates, especially for senior citizens and those who live in rural areas.

The state Senate could soon consider give final approval for the changes, which have already passed in the Assembly. The industry says they would increase competition and are needed to reflect the modern telecommunications world.

The left-leaning groups New Jersey Policy Perspectives and Demos point to a 2009 survey by the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, which found that rates rose in 17 of the 20 states that deregulated.

Consumer groups said deregulation would take away protections for consumers.

Verizon said the advocates’ report relies on “fiction, false assumptions and fear-mongering.”

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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