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New Legislation Targets Inflated Wireless Speed Claims: 4G Means Anything Carriers Want

Phillip Dampier June 22, 2011 Broadband Speed, Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't, Wireless Broadband No Comments

Rep. Anna Eshoo

Legislation forcing carriers to tell the truth about their 4G wireless speeds is scheduled to be introduced today in Congress by its author and chief sponsor, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.)

The Next Generation Wireless Disclosure Act would require carriers to disclose the minimum data speed of their respective networks and better explain plan pricing and coverage.  While many consumers believe “4G” means vastly superior speeds and performance, in reality some wireless carriers have labeled even incremental network upgrades as delivering “4G” service, even if speeds are only incrementally better.

“Consumers deserve to know exactly what they’re getting for their money when they sign-up for a 4G data plan,” said Rep. Eshoo. “My legislation is simple – it will establish guidelines for understanding what 4G speed really is, and ensure that consumers have all the information they need to make an informed decision.”

Specifically, the legislation would provide consumers with the following information at the point of sale and in all billing materials:

  • Guaranteed minimum data speed
  • Network reliability
  • Coverage area maps
  • Pricing
  • Technology used to provide 4G service
  • Network conditions that can impact the speed of applications and services used on the network.

The legislation also requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to evaluate the speed and price of 4G wireless data service provided by the top ten U.S. wireless carriers in order to provide consumers with access to a side-by-side comparison in their service area.

“Consumers want faster, more reliable wireless data service, and I look forward to working with industry and consumer groups to achieve this goal,” Eshoo added. “We need to enhance transparency and ensure consumers are fully informed before they commit to a long-term service contract.”

The bill faces tough prospects in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and industry groups are likely to oppose the measure.  Eshoo has tangled with both in the recent past as a prominent supporter of Net Neutrality.

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  • Phillip Dampier: That is a relief. I have WH-DVR service here, mostly so I can watch MSNBC Morning Joe and get annoyed by the always mercurial Joe Scarborough, which i...
  • hillary clinton: if you need a set top box on each tv for $7 my price will go up for that also unless I use a roku stick. $7 x $4 is $28 TWC I only use 1 hd box a...
  • James R Curry: It's also worth noting that in Maxx areas, 50/5 is the same price as 15/1 in non-Maxx areas. So without the Charter buy out, you would have eventuall...
  • Ricardo S: The DVR is treated as an umbrella charge. For example: customer wants 4 DVR's so cost would be 4.99 a piece and one 19.99 DVR service fee. Modem cost ...
  • John: My rates went up so I dropped my cable with the intention of signing up for a streaming service. However, dropping cable caused my 50mbs service to g...
  • Phillip Dampier: You missed my point. Many customers prefer a lower price over faster speed. You started with 50/5Mbps. Most TWC customers choose to pay for 15/1Mbps b...
  • Jk: The article is misleading. You compare the price of 15/1 internet to the price of Charter 60? I have 50/5 from a TW non max area, but I'm paying close...
  • Charles Dennett: Regarding the modem, from what I've heard, Charter includes the price of the modem rental in the price of the Internet access. They don't break it ou...
  • Derpson: Interesting, I have only seen 4megabits/sec advertised as the upload speed. They should be forced to show the upload speed in their advertisements, t...
  • Andy: Thought maybe AT&T and Verizon would consolidate all the land lines in the U.S. at one point. With Verizon shedding systems year after year, I gue...
  • Dan: Fun facts: "Maglan" means "ibis" in Hebrew. Ibises probe mud for crustaceans and maggots. FairPoint's operating margins are among the industry's highe...
  • Josh: Why the heck does this need a $50 "activation" or a "service call"? Isn't it just buying a modem that supports it and swapping it out? It was PAAA...

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