New bill would require mobile carriers to detail 4G speeds

The legislation is aimed at giving customers more information about mobile service, the sponsor says

New legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives would require mobile carriers to detail their "guaranteed minimum" data speeds and their network reliability statistics to potential customers.

The Next Generation Wireless Disclosure Act is designed to give mobile customers more information about new 4G services, said Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat and bill sponsor.

There's no standard definition of 4G mobile service, giving customers "vastly different" speeds depending on the carrier and location, Eshoo said in a statement.

"Consumers deserve to know exactly what they're getting for their money when they sign-up for a 4G data plan," she added. "The wireless industry has invested billions to improve service coverage, reliability and data speeds, and consumers' demand for 4G is expected to explode. But consumers need to know the truth about the speeds they're actually getting."

The bill would require mobile carriers to offer potential and existing customers information on pricing, including caps on so-called unlimited data plans, and it would require carriers to disclose what technologies they use to deliver 4G service. Carriers have marketed several technologies including LTE (Long Term Evolution), WiMax, and HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access) as 4G, Eshoo said.

Carriers would have to provide information about the 4G service, also including coverage maps, "consistently, clearly, and prominently in all marketing materials," according to the bill's language.

"Consumers want faster, more reliable wireless data service," Eshoo said. "We need to enhance transparency and ensure consumers are fully informed before they commit to a long-term service contract."

The legislation would require the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to compare the prices and speeds of 4G data service at the 10 largest U.S. mobile carriers and provide consumers with a side-by-side comparison.

CTIA, a trade group representing large mobile carriers, said the bill adds a "new layer of regulation" to mobile service. The legislation ignores "the fact that wireless is an inherently complex and dynamic environment in which network speeds can vary depending on a wide variety of factors," Jot Carpenter, CTIA's vice president of government affairs, said in a statement.

Carpenter called on Congress to focus on the "real issue" -- making sure carriers have enough wireless spectrum.

Consumers Union, the Media Access Project and Public Knowledge were among the groups expressing support for the bill. The legislation will "empower consumers who are shopping for wireless broadband service," said Parul Desai, policy counsel at Consumers Union.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Parul DesaitelecommunicationConsumers UnionregulationAnna EshooU.S. Federal Communications CommissionJot CarpentergovernmentmobilePublic KnowledgeMedia Access ProjectU.S. House of Representatives

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?