Finally…Congressional pressure on mobile telephony providers

When describing my experiences trying to figure out what I’m paying for with mobile telephony services — and how to figure out a personal or business cost model — I’ve said, “If it’s Tuesday and the customer service person has had onions on their cheeseburger for lunch, the price is different.” It’s my way of expressing the huge number of variables that make it very difficult to predict what mobile usage is going to cost.

Obviously that’s the strategy. Keep us befuddled and confused with a dizzying array of choices and we’ll just pick one and rack up who knows what costs.

Thankfully my own Minnesota Senator, Amy Klobuchar, has teamed up with Senator Jay Rockefeller to introduce a bill to empower all of us to not be locked in to any given mobile telephony provider and have some form of mobile telephony choice:

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) today unveiled legislation aimed at empowering the 200 million cell phone customers nationwide to make informed choices about a wireless service that best fits their needs and their budget.

The Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act of 2007 will require wireless service providers to share simple, clear information on their services and charges with customers before they enter into long-term contracts; a thirty-day window in which to exit a contract without early termination fees; and greater flexibility to exit contracts with services that don’t meet their needs.

I’ve had my own issues with Verizon Wireless in the past as well as the only provider I could use with my new iPhone (AT&T Wireless) and their sneaky methods to get me to pay more money. All of it stems from these provider’s attempts at maximizing their profits at our expense. It’s as though each has figured out the absolute base-case services to provide and no more.

Why is it that my old phones could easily connect to my laptop so I could add my own, home-created ringtones? Then the mobile telephony providers pressured cell phone manufacturer’s to remove these features so they could sell $1.99 ringtones (of course, I’ve found easy ways to make my own ringtones for my iPhone and can easily get them there…I’ll not pay even $.99 for a ringtone from a song I’ve already purchased!).

In their defense, these companies have invested billions in infrastructure and it’s not trivial to cover the huge geography that is the United States of America. They’re finally facing potential competition from the upcoming auction of the 700mhz spectrum (which could see a non-traditional telephony provider offering competitive mobile telephony products and services) so maybe they’ll change before competition ensues or Congressional bills become law.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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