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News Oct 12, 2011 - 6:44 PM

Blumenthal, senators introduce 4G bill

By Senator Blumenthal's office

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Washington, DC - Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) today introduced the Next Generation Wireless Disclosure Act which will require wireless providers to disclose complete and accurate information about their 4G wireless data service in their sales and advertising practices. The bill mirrors legislation introduced by Representative Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) in the House of Representatives this past June.

Blumenthal said, “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. Whether they are using a tablet or a smartphone, wireless users deserve an honest description by companies of product capabilities. I’m proud to introduce the Senate companion to the bill that Representative Eshoo has worked so tirelessly on in the House to help bring fairness and certainty to consumers.”

Klobuchar said, “When consumers purchase a 4G wireless plan, they have the right to know exactly what they’re getting for their money. This legislation will help ensure that wireless companies are honest about their product’s capabilities so consumers can get a fair deal.”

Franken said, "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. 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."

“Consumers deserve to know exactly what they’re getting when they sign up for a two year wireless data plan,” said Rep. Eshoo. “Consumers want faster and faster phones, and demand for 4G is only going to increase. But they also deserve to know the truth about the speeds they’re actually getting. Wireless companies advertise 4G service as ‘lightning fast’ and ‘super-charged,’ but that’s not always the case. My legislation is simple – it will require truth in advertising. I’m proud that Senators Blumenthal and Klobuchar have introduced this legislation in the Senate. With their help, we can make sure that consumers have all the information they need to make an informed choice about which wireless data service to purchase.”

As it stands there is no standard definition for 4G wireless broadband internet, allowing the four major wireless companies in the United States to advertise several different technologies as “4G,” despite vastly different speeds based on their wireless provider and location. The Next Generation Wireless Disclosure Act would require wireless companies to disclose the details listed below in their marketing and advertising at the point of sale and in all 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

The legislation will further require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to evaluate the speed and price of 4G wireless data service provided by the top ten U.S. wireless carriers. This will provide consumers with access to a side-by-side comparison in their service area.

Eshoo serves as the Ranking Member on House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee.

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