US senators propose bill to require 'accurate 4G information for consumers'

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Three Democratic members of the U.S. Senate introduced on Thursday the "Next Generation Wireless Disclosure Act," which aims to clear up confusion surrounding 4G high-speed wireless data networks and control what carriers can and must say in their advertisements.



Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., announced the act on Thursday, which they said would "require wireless providers to disclose complete and accurate information about their 4G wireless data service in their sales and advertising practices." It mirrors legislation passed in the House of Representatives this past June.



The proposed act would require companies to disclose specific details in their marketing and advertising. The bill was created because there is no standard definition for 4G wireless broadband Internet.



The bill would require that the following details be included at the point of sale and also in all customers' billing materials:

Guaranteed minimum data speed

Network reliability

Coverage area maps

Pricing

Technology used to provide 4G service

Network conditions that can impact the speed of applications and services used on the network

In addition, the bill would require that the Federal Communications Commission evaluate the speed and price of 4G wireless data service provided by the top ten U.S. wireless carriers. Customers could then have access to a side-by-side comparison of providers in their services area.



The proposed legislation comes after two of the four largest carriers in the U.S., AT&T and T-Mobile, have begun advertising their networks as "4G," even though they do not run on "true" 4G technology like long-term evolution, or LTE.



Last week, evidence surfaced that AT&T wants to go a step farther, and is attempting to convince Apple to add "4G" indicator to the iPhone 4S status bar, because the iPhone 4S is capable of HSDPA speeds in some areas. However, AT&T's HSDPA network is different -- and slower -- than its smaller 4G LTE network the carrier is currently expanding.







Blumenthal said he believes the bill, if passed, can help bring "fairness and certainty to consumers."



"As consumers become more reliant on Internet capabilities from their mobile devices, it is essential that they have the most accurate and useful information about the products and plans they are purchasing," he said. "Whether they are using a tablet or a smartphone, wireless users deserve an honest description by companies of product capabilities."



AT&T is hoping to expand its network, including HSDPA+ and LTE coverage, with a proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. But that deal has been met with skepticism by members of a U.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee.



Blumenthal previously partnered with Franken in June to present a bill to enforce mobile privacy laws on companies like Apple and Google. The legislation was spurred in part by the location data controversy that involved Apple's iOS devices. The glitch that stored location data on GPS-enabled iOS devices was fixed with a software update.



"While wireless data makes it easier for people all over Minnesota to do their jobs and to access music, movies, and books from virtually anywhere, it's important that consumers know what they'll be paying for when they sign a contract," Franken said. "Wireless providers need to make sure their customers can count on the speed, reliability, and the price they were promised when they signed up. And if they can't fulfill their promise, they need to be held accountable."



Kloubuchar said she believes customers have a right to know clearly and specifically what they are getting when they sign up for a 4G data plan.



"This legislation will help ensure that wireless companies are honest about their product's capabilities so consumers can get a fair deal," she said.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 57
    poochpooch Posts: 768member
    i think i just bought an 8G phone and plan from at&t ... i am sooo far ahead of you guys.
  • Reply 2 of 57
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,430member
    This makes me ill.
  • Reply 3 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Pooch View Post


    i think i just bought an 8G phone and plan from at&t ... i am sooo far ahead of you guys.



    By the time they would pass anything like this, you will.
  • Reply 4 of 57
    irelandireland Posts: 17,459member
    Every bill requires to more bills
  • Reply 5 of 57
    jcozjcoz Posts: 251member
    Even if this passed, consumers still wouldn't know or understand the real world data speeds of the devices they chose.



    At least not the ones who can't discern for them selves the differences in "4G" marketing speak.
  • Reply 6 of 57
    dluxdlux Posts: 666member
    To hell with this - let's see some legislation that requires carriers to unlock all subsidized handsets after the contract ends.
  • Reply 7 of 57
    rbonnerrbonner Posts: 635member
    <sarcasm>

    When I look at all the issues that require attention in this country, this is the one that always boils to the top for me.

    </sarcasm>
  • Reply 8 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dlux View Post


    To hell with this - let's see some legislation that requires carriers to sell all handsets unlocked.



    Fixed.
  • Reply 9 of 57
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dlux View Post


    To hell with this - let's see some legislation that requires carriers to unlock all subsidized handsets after the contract ends.



    Or lower the price after the contract period ends.
  • Reply 10 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Fixed.



    Yes I concur! Carriers should have NO say as to what I can do with my phone as long as I still pay what my contract states. You shouldn't have to wait until your contract ends to get it unlocked, you should be able to unlock it immediately.



    The way I see it, you pay that subsidized price for a phone so that your carrier can lock you into paying for their services for at least 2 years. As long the user is doing that, who gives a flying spaghetti monster what you do with the actual phone?



    UNLOCK AT POS!!!
  • Reply 11 of 57
    jonamacjonamac Posts: 384member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The bill was created because there is no standard definition for 4G wireless broadband Internet.



    This is not true.



    'The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has the job of deciding which G is which. Under its definition, LTE is 3.9G.



    The ITU's standard for 4G technology demands that it be capable of pushing data around at a rate of 1 gigabit per second. LTE is designed to handle a mere 100 megabits per second.'




    - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15079004
  • Reply 12 of 57
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,736member
    Truth in advertising ... wow what a concept.
  • Reply 13 of 57
    ipilyaipilya Posts: 185member
    I think its silly that congress needs to be involved with this... after all... shouldn't this rest on the shoulders of the FCC & FTC?



    However... I applaud any effort to fix the mess. Since the "4G" term has been dumbed down to allow companies to abuse the hell out of it... it has become a joke.



    Its a sad state of affairs in the States how the major carriers smoke-n-mirror consumers. Where I live now.... 3G speed is 21.6Mbit/s down and 5.7Mbit/s up.... where as our 4G services is 100Mbit/s on the down and 50Mbit/s on the up. Oh... and did I mention its true unlimited at those speeds?



    Though... keep in mind... at least here that is... that 4G has a very VERY limited footprint. Also... 4G devices do not necessarily downgrade to 3G service as the two are often incompatible... you need to read the fine print.



    FYI: Here are the plan comparisons (PC& Tablets): https://www.emt.ee/en/internet-arvut...4079272-tabs-2



    btw - not trying to brag... just would love the consumers to stand up and say enough is enough!
  • Reply 14 of 57
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,430member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    Truth in advertising ... wow what a concept.



    1. If the Senate was concerned about truth, none of them would ever speak in public.



    2. The consumer that believes an advertisement deserves what he/she/it gets. There are plenty of private consumer protection and information groups. Do we really need two branches of the Federal Government acting as yet another?



    I loved the list of requirements. Guaranteed minimum speed....
  • Reply 15 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Guaranteed minimum data speed

    Network reliability

    Coverage area maps

    Pricing

    Technology used to provide 4G service



    For the first one - wish we had that for broadband internet speeds. For the last one - how about that fact that all current iterations of 4g were not the orignal 4g that was supposed to be faster than 30mbps
  • Reply 16 of 57
    This bill needs some seriously careful writing, though.



    Instead of defining 4G, it needs to be the framework for defining ALL Gs. ALL future iterations of cellular data forced to have a minimum speed. And whatever else.



    And it needs to include BROBDINGNAGIANLY HUGE fines for the telecoms that aren't following the rules NOW.



    Yes, I'm talking about retroactive legislation. Something needs to be done, at least.
  • Reply 17 of 57
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,430member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPilya View Post


    I think its silly that congress needs to be involved with this... after all... shouldn't this rest on the shoulders of the FCC & FTC?




    The FCC and FTC get their authority, including limits, from the Legislative Branch. Well, that's the way it was drawn up long ago between Legislative and Executive. Not having read the bill, I'd guess that it authorizes the FCC to keep an eye on this and the DoJ to take action when the FCC notices a violation and perhaps some penalties for the 3rd Branch so they aren't bored.
  • Reply 18 of 57
    bagmanbagman Posts: 349member
    Why don't they take a page from Proctor & Gamble, and just say:



    "NEW AND IMPROVED" - (never have to answer any quesions at all).
  • Reply 19 of 57
    Congress has no say on what is 4G.





    The ITU has already defined it. Basically, WIMAX, LTE, and HSPA+ are all 4G now (as of last December).





    http://www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/p...s/2010/48.aspx
  • Reply 20 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dlux View Post


    To hell with this - let's see some legislation that requires carriers to unlock all subsidized handsets after the contract ends.



    +1 We already have that in the UK, but clearly should be available in the US
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