A new bill would require carriers to disclose hidden data caps on ‘unlimited’ accounts and compare ‘4G’ speeds directly with competitors, reports Macworld.
The Next Generation Wireless Disclosure Act was introduced in an effort to give consumers more accurate information about just what they’re paying for when they purchase wireless service.
Currently many carriers have wildly disparate definitions of what constitutes ‘4G’ speeds, causing enough confusion among customers to make it difficult to determine who exactly has the fastest data service. This isn’t helped by the fact that there are several competing technologies that are being marketed as ‘4G’ by the carriers, including HSPA+ (AT&T), LTE (Verizon and AT&T) and WiMax (Sprint).
The new bill would require carriers to disclose the exact technology that they’re using to deliver ‘4G’ service. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission would have to develop and offer a chart to consumers that compares the prices and speeds of 4G service at the top 10 US carriers.
“Consumers deserve to know exactly what they’re getting for their money when they sign-up for a 4G data plan,” said Representative Anna Eshoo of California, the bill’s sponsor, “The wireless industry has invested billions to improve service coverage, reliability and data speeds, and consumers’ demand for 4G is expected to explode. But consumers need to know the truth about the speeds they’re actually getting.”
The bill would also require mobile carriers to offer customers information on pricing and to reveal the hidden data caps on ‘unlimited’ data plans.
CITA, a trade group that represents the interests of the larger mobile carriers is opposing the bill and its VP of government affairs, Jot Carpenter, said that the “real issue” is making sure that wireless carriers have enough wireless spectrum to support the expanding data needs of customers.
The all-too-common practice of obscuring exactly what consists of 4G data serves only to confuse customers and the tech blogging community spends much of its time untangling the convoluted landscape of 4G tech. Anything that offers more clarity to the consumer at the time of purchase couldn’t hurt.