Feature Article

August 27, 2012

FCC is Asked to Require Cell Phone Companies to Disclose Data Speeds

Consumer Watchdog, a non-profit organization that aims to give a voice to taxpayers and consumers, has asked the FCC to require that cell phone companies disclose data speeds. Citing deceptive advertising, Consumer Watchdog petitioned the FCC on Thursday, August 23. 

According to the group, the technical speed standards for 4G mobile phone technology are ignored by U.S. wireless carriers. U.S. cell phone companies are using the phrase “faster, 4G speeds” in nearly all of their advertising campaigns, but are doing so without making any improvements to current and existing products or disclosing what they actually mean by “faster”.

The petition used AT&T as an example of 4G/data marketplace abuse; highlighting the way that the company has been advertising the iPhone 4S as a 4G phone although Apple only represents it as 3G. 

“AT&T is constantly trying to fool people about having the latest technology”, said Laura Antonini, staff attorney for Consumer Watchdog. “No consumer should be forced to rely solely on claims from a repeat corporate offender like AT&T when buying a new smartphone. The bottom line is that consumers need reliable information about mobile broadband performance.”

The petition filed by Consumer Watchdog is asking the FCC to adopt new rules that would require that cell phone companies to provide several disclosures in advertisements, including the national average data speed that subscribers experience when using the network, the national average data speeds that they experience while using the network within the city or area that the advertisement appears in, and also the average data speeds that support any speed comparison claims made in the company’s advertising.

“We need the FCC to step up to its role of sheriff and set standards so people can comparison shop without being ripped off and then locked into a two year contract” said Harvey Rosenfeld, the founder of Consumer Watchdog. “Now 4G means nothing.” Rosenfeld is also one of the lawyers filing the petition.

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Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

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