CNN - New bill would require carriers to clarify 4G speeds

June 22, 2011
In The News

CNN Money recently covered Rep. Eshoo's legislation, Next Generation Wireless Disclosure Act, to provide consumers with information about the speed, reliability, coverage zones, pricing, and the technology of "4G" plans.

The Next Generation Wireless Disclosure Act would force carriers to shine more light on exactly what they are providing customers. At the point of sale, wireless providers would have to provide specific information about speed, reliability, coverage zones, pricing, and the technology used for the service. Consumers would also be provided with a side-by-side comparison of the top 10 competing networks' speeds and prices.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat from Palo Alto, Calif., and the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

Eshoo's office said the proposed new disclosure would work like a sticker on a new car, on which the government requires dealers to place fuel economy and safety information.

"Consumers deserve to know exactly what they're getting for their money when they sign-up for a 4G data plan," said Eshoo in a statement sent to the press. "We need to enhance transparency and ensure consumers are fully informed before they commit to a long-term service contract."

Much of the consumer confusion surrounding 4G stems from the vastly different 4G-branded offerings from wireless companies. To cut through the marketing hype, the bill would require the wireless companies to work with the FCC to set a minimum speed standard for 4G. The FCC would establish the speed range, which would be guaranteed by the carriers.

The current lack of a clear 4G definition has left many consumers in the dark about what they're really buying.

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