Friday, July 11, 2008

Wireless Contract Updates: ETF Settlements and Wireless Wiretap Immunity

Here are a couple of news update that are related to wireless contracts. Let's begin with Verizon agreeing to pay some ETF settlements.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Verizon Wireless has settled with subscribers who have filed class-action lawsuits over early-termination fees in wireless contracts. The mobile phone carrier is willing to pay $21 million to settle these wireless contract disputes. Some experts say that this move will to put renewed focus on a federal effort to restrict early termination fees.

Well, this is certainly good for Verizon wireless subscribers especially those who are disputing ETF's. It will be interesting to see the effect of this move. Perhaps the other carriers will also decide to settle the class action suits that they are facing. Maybe the FCC will implement guidelines to take control of these fees.

Let's move on to the news about telecommunication getting immunity from warrantless wiretaps.

The US President Bush will soon sign the new electronic surveillance legislation that can free companies from dozens of privacy lawsuits. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was revised and the changes were passed by the Senate yesterday and the House last month. These revisions effectively grants AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp. retroactive immunity to in connection with their participation in the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretap program.

Here's a statement from the American president regarding the wireless wiretap immunity granted to the carriers.
“This bill will help our intelligence professionals learn who the terrorists are talking to, what they’re saying, and what they're planning. It will ensure that those companies whose assistance is necessary to protect the country will, themselves, be protected from lawsuits for past or future cooperation with the government. It will uphold our most solemn obligation as officials of the federal government to protect the American people.”

Well, I think this is great news for both subscribers and and the carriers. The mobile phone carriers will be able to protect the privacy over their customers and won't have to worry about privacy lawsuits. Privacy is part of the wireless contract between the two parties. No customer would want to trust any carrier who will not be able to provide security and privacy so they can be protected from losing customers.

This deal is also great for customers because they won't have to worry about the threat of wire tapping. They know that their private conversations and messages will be safe from the prying eyes of the government.

Tune in to this blog for more wireless contract updates.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Lawmakers Argue Over Roaming

Here's some more wireless contracts news. Apparently, lawmakers have been debating about over roaming. Some experts say that the controversy over this wireless contract policy may grow into a major fault line in the mobile-phone industry. Let me discuss roaming before we proceed to the meat of this news.

The term "Roaming" is used in wireless telecommunications to describe the extending of connectivity service in a location that is different from the home location where the service was registered. Now every carrier has it's own wireless contract policies on roaming and the charges that come with it.

Here's a statement from the wireless contract of on roaming:

Roaming charges for wireless data or voice service may be charged with some plans when outside AT&T's wireless network. Display on your device will not indicate whether you will incur roaming charges. Services originated or received while outside your plan's included coverage area are subject to roaming charges. Use of Services when roaming is dependent upon roaming carrier's support of applicable network technology and functionality. Check with roaming carriers individually for support and coverage details. Billing for domestic and international roaming usage may be delayed up to three billing cycles due to reporting between carriers. If your usage of the Services on other carriers' wireless networks ("offnet usage") during any two consecutive months exceeds your offnet usage allowance, AT&T may at its option terminate your wireless service or access to data Services, deny your continued use of other carriers' coverage, or change your plan to one imposing usage charges for offnet usage. Your offnet usage allowance is equal to the lesser of 6 megabytes or 20% of the kilobytes included with your plan and for messaging plans the lesser of 3000 messages or 50% of the messages included with your plan. AT&T will provide notice that it intends to take any of the above actions and you may terminate your agreement.

Now that we have discussed the concept of roaming, it's time to get back to the news. The trend to consolidate roaming policies and fees among mobile phone carriers is making an already rough-and-tumble roaming dispute even more volatile. Small carriers have remained dissatisfied with last year’s FCC ruling that declared automatic roaming a common-carrier obligation for cellular operators.

Unfortunately, the FCC ruling has fan the flames over an in-market exemption, the applicability of the mandate to push-to-talk service and the possibility of extending the new rule to high speed wireless Internet services.

To make matters worse the FCC has yet to rule regulatory challenges to its roaming order. Some lawmakers have made inquiries ion to the FCC's plans to proceed on challenges to the automatic roaming ruling.

The legislators are also
concerned that the in-market exception will affect districts with large concentrations of low-income and minority citizens. This market is largely served by small and regional wireless providers.

Leap Wireless International Inc., SouthernLINC Wireless, U.S. Cellular Corp., MetroPCS Communications Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp., T-Mobile USA Inc. and several rural telecom associations are questioning the
FCC roaming rule.

Well, I hope that the legislators and the FCC can figure out the best solution to this roaming controversy. Tune in to this blog for more wireless contract info and news.