Earlier today, three Democratic senators introduced a new bill that requires wireless providers to give consumers more complete and accurate information regarding the 4G wireless data performance they are being provided with. A similar bill proposed by California representative Eshoo was introduced in June. The need for a bill such as this comes from the fact that most indications of speed used in sales and marketing campaigns are more a string of buzzwords pulled together than an indication of a network’s actual speed.
The bill intends to enforce disclosure of minimum 4G data speeds, pricing, coverage area maps, network reliability and conditions in addition to details about the hardware employed in the network. It also intends to require that the FCC evaluate the 4G speeds and prices of the top ten wireless providers in the U.S. so as to give consumers the chance to see a comprehensive comparison in their own service areas.
Unfortunately, there already seems to be opposition to the bill, with the CTIA not keen on adding an extra layer of regulation to an up and coming set of services, especially since “wireless is an inherently complex and dynamic environment in which network speeds can vary depending on a wide variety of factors, such as weather, terrain and foliage.” In their statement, they also called upon the need for Congress to ensure the sufficiency of spectrum for providers to deploy 4G services, instead of imposing new regulations.
I think that the introduction of this bill has come at a very interesting time, and it should tie in well with our discussion on Question 19. I do believe there is merit to what the bill proposes, especially from a consumer interest point of view. Do you think wireless providers will ever be on board with such a proposition though?