Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Wireless Consumer Protection Bill

Massachusetts Representative Edward J. Markey, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet has authored a bill that will challenge wireless contracts. According to the bill, legislation is needed because, "wireless service is increasingly used and relied upon by residential and business consumers.”

The Wireless Consumer Protection Bill aims to nullify the need for consumers to sign a mobile phone contract when they pay the full price for handsets. The bill also postulates that customers who purchases a mobile phone at the full price should be able to avail of voice and data services at a rate that is comparable with those offered with subsidized phones.

The bill authored by Markey also has a provision that would mandate prorated early termination fees and force cell phone service providers to only recover device subsidies. A hearing will be held at the The U.S. House of Representatives to discuss this revolutionary bill.

Some experts think that this bill was crafted because of the complications brought about by AT&T and the iPhone. The carrier was criticized for requiring customers to sign a two year wireless contract even though they pay for the full prize of the device and AT&T does not subsidize the hot product.

If the House of Representatives decides to pass this bill and it becomes enacted as law, then the power of wireless contracts will obviously be diminished. The carriers will also be affected because wireless contracts offer discounts that encourage people to buy expensive mobile phones.

According to analysts, this bill may also pave the way to a more open network. For example, a customer may buy a mobile phone from a carrier at full price to avoid being locked by a wireless contract. Then that customer is free to take the device to another carrier provided as long as the device is compatible with the network.

A comment on this article also indicated that AT&T have already been allowing customers to avoid wireless contracts if they pay the full price of the product. According to the comment, the carrier does not advertise this offer and the customer has to ask for this deal. I wasn't able to confirm this but if your an AT&T customer, then it's certainly worth a try.

I guess all we can do is wait for the result of the hearings. If the Wireless Consumer Protection Bill becomes a law, then perhaps consumers can benefit from it. Maybe it can also lessen the wireless contracts complaints and class actions suits directed towards the networks. I hope this piece of info will be helpful to you.

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