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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentmobileregulationtelecommunicationU.S. Federal Communications CommissionPublic KnowledgeAnna EshooMedia Access ProjectJot CarpenterU.S. House of RepresentativesConsumers UnionParul Desai

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

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?