Government: iPhone and US cell service is unfair

August 13, 2007

Government: iPhone and US cell service is unfairLawmakers in Washington believe the Federal Government needs to regulate the cell service industry in order to create a better experience for consumers. Other countries provide examples for the US to follow.

Recently, Amp’d Mobile shut down, leaving 175,000 customers suddenly out of cell service. Sprint canceled the accounts of about 1,000 customers last month for complaining too much. Verizon is always behind the rest of the world when it comes to phone selection and phone technology, and don’t get me started on AT&T’s reception and call quality. Basically, America isn’t satisfied with its cell service.

The August 6, 2007 edition of Newsweek reports the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Internet thinks it might be a bad idea for wireless companies to be regulated at the state utility level rather than the federal level. Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts held up an iPhone at the subcommittee’s meeting this month asking why it was fair to charge an early termination fee when the device costs at least $500 and can only be used on AT&T’s network.

Here in America, we’re used to getting screwed by big corporations, so an early termination fee makes sense. After all, we’ve never known anything else. But when you think about it, why the hell is it fair to charge an early termination fee? Why is it fair to get screwed when you want to change carriers? The fact is: it’s not fair, and it’s happening.

Chris Murray, senior counsel for Consumer Reports publisher Consumers Union, was at the July 11 hearing and believes US cell service isn’t making the kind of progress it should, “Instead of innovating, the wireless industry has become a cozy cartel of a few dominant providers.”

Apart from pointless termination fees for switching providers, other practices the government may soon get rid of include the selling of handsets that only work on one provider and limitations on Internet access. Even though European carriers lack such dictatorship-like qualities, US carriers say such things are necessary to stay profitable. Regardless, the subcommittee is now looking into possible rules for a wireless broadband market.

Let’s hope in ten years we won’t have to deal with the lame oligopoly we’re bending over for now.

 

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