Interstate Nature of Wireless Service Justifies Federal Authority
WASHINGTON D.C. - The Federal Communications Commission is justified in claiming jurisdiction over early termination fees for wireless phone service, states PFF Senior Fellow Barbara Esbin in "Wireless Consumer Protection: Who Decides?" released today by The Progress & Freedom Foundation. The question of whether ETFs can be classified under the Federal Communications Act as "rates charged" or "terms and conditions" may not be solely determinative of FCC jurisdiction, as federal regulation also extends to carrier "practices" and "regulations" in connection with interstate communications services. The assertion of federal jurisdiction over such fees would avoid a "patchwork" of potentially inconsistent and unnecessary regulation that could deter investment and innovation in wireless communications services and would have little benefit for consumers.
Esbin, Director of PFF's Center for Communications and Competition Policy, also urges policymakers to avoid action that would prohibit ETFs as an option in wireless phone contracts due to prevalent competition in the market and consumer preference for these alternative pricing plans. Instead, federal policymakers should continue the established "light touch" regulatory regime already imposed on the industry. "Issues concerning the reasonableness of wireless service contract ETFs and the manner in which they are assessed and imposed should be determined by the FCC," explains Esbin, "with input from all interested parties, including the state public utilities commissions and consumer advocates."
"Wireless Consumer Protection: Who Decides?" is available on the PFF website.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.