For immediate release
April 30, 2007
A group of public-interest organizations today told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that consumers should have more flexibility in acquiring cellphones and in using those phones than they are given by wireless carriers.
The groups filed their comments with the FCC today in support of a petition filed by Skype Communications. The members of the Ad Hoc Public Interest Spectrum Coalition signing the comments were (in alphabetical order): EDUCAUSE, Free Press, Media Access Project, New America Foundation, Public Knowledge and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
In their comments to the Commission, the groups noted that under a 1968 FCC order, consumers using telephones connected to the wired telephone network “have the right to attach equipment and use applications of their choice.” The groups argued: “Wireless consumers deserve the same innovation-spawning rights.” The problem today, the groups said, is that: “Wireless carriers are hampering innovation and raising costs by using market, technical, and contractual barriers to limit consumer choice and reduce competition in communications software and consumer equipment.”
The groups asked the FCC to “adopt and enforce non-discrimination requirements for wireless Internet access networks.” According to the filing: “Wireless carriers actively interfere with consumer access to Internet content and services; therefore, the Commission, under its own reasoning in the 2005 Broadband Access Policy Statement, should prohibit wireless carriers from discriminating against consumer-chosen equipment, applications and content.” Wireless carriers “should not be allowed to leverage exclusive government spectrum licenses to thwart competition and restrict consumer choice in the related and rapidly evolving markets for wireless devices, applications and content,” the groups said.
The groups also recommended the Commission investigate wireless consumer service agreements, which often include hefty termination charges. According to the filing: “We believe these long-term unilateral agreements harm consumers and prevent market corrections.”
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