Reforming the Cellular Phone Industry
by The National Review staff article The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was a landmark act that opened up the way for Americans to buy and use cellular phones.
It also required that consumers who did not have cell phone service be charged a fee and that they be able to use their cell phone at all times.
Unfortunately, the legislation was not well-received by consumers and some states have since passed legislation to make cell phone use less convenient.
The Wireless Communications Association (WCA) and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) released a report on February 8th, 2021, that calls for an overhaul of the wireless industry, in particular cell phone usage.
While the report does not recommend any specific legislative action, the report suggests that Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) take steps to ensure that consumers have access to broadband, high-speed Internet access, and more affordable wireless services.
As noted in the report, consumers should also be able, and should want to, to access their personal cell phone data at their own convenience.
The report states that “the wireless industry is facing a huge set of challenges, and the U.S. needs to make sure that the mobile revolution is not disrupted or delayed,” and that the Federal Trade Commission should pursue action to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive practices.
While a number of issues have been raised in the WCA report, the most important thing to note is that it calls for a change in how cell phone users are able to access cell phone services and to how much data they have access, in order to make the transition to high-bandwidth wireless services more attractive to consumers.
“The Wireless Communications Industry’s (WCEI) recent report on the wireless spectrum auction and the future of the industry makes a compelling case for legislative action that would allow the industry to offer customers a choice of services, in an effort to encourage more wireless consumers to choose the right wireless service provider,” said Tim Kelly, Senior Director of Wireless and Data Services at WCEI.
“For consumers, this means a return to the days when they could choose between a mobile provider and a fixed network provider.
We need to see a major legislative response, not just a short-term regulatory action, to help make wireless the most attractive service choice available today.”
The WCA’s report also calls on the FCC to require that carriers be required to provide a customer with access to data in an “appropriate manner” to allow them to “reasonably” use the data.
The WCEA report concludes that “cell phone use is the primary mode of transportation for many people today, with one in five adults having a mobile device,” and calls on Congress and FCC to make that transition as quickly as possible.
The wireless industry has been working to bring consumers more affordable options in wireless and the wireless market in general.
In addition to the WCEF report, a number other organizations have been working with consumers to develop recommendations on how the wireless and wireless industry can better provide consumers with better services.
A coalition of leading wireless providers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, have issued a joint statement calling for the FCC and Congress to move quickly to pass legislation that will give consumers access to more affordable mobile wireless services in order “to enable the wireless revolution to flourish.”
AT&t, Sprint and T-Mo have all joined with the coalition, calling on Congress to enact legislation to “increase the flexibility of the marketplace and encourage the creation of a robust, modern, affordable wireless marketplace.”
This statement comes on the heels of a similar statement issued by Sprint on January 25, 2021.
“We’re pleased that our industry has taken a leadership role in making sure consumers have the opportunity to have access and choice in their wireless services,” said David J. Gorman, Senior Vice President, Business Development and Strategic Initiatives, Sprint.
“As a leader in wireless, we know that we must continue to lead the charge in the wireless marketplace and that we can’t wait any longer.
The industry has a long way to go to meet this challenge, but we will not be stopped.
We look forward to working with our industry partners and the public to create more robust and fair wireless markets, and to ensure the wireless ecosystem continues to flourish for years to come.”
The NCTA has also joined the coalition and issued a statement calling on the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and Congress “to continue to work towards a more fair wireless marketplace, and continue to provide consumers a better choice of wireless providers.”
“The wireless industry faces a huge number of challenges that we will continue to address in order for it to continue to deliver innovative, innovative products and services to millions of customers,” said Jessica Rich, Chief of the Wireless and Mobile Division, NCTA.
“This report demonstrates that we should work with the FCC, the FCC’s Federal Communications Commissioner, and our members of Congress to make these issues a priority, and in the interest of consumer choice, provide consumers access and flexibility to the best