WASHINGTON-The wireless market is competitive so the Federal Communications Commission should not impose exit regulations on mobile-phone carriers, the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association told FCC Chairman Michael Powell on Thursday.
“Requiring [commercial mobile radio service] providers to secure permission to discontinue their services, however, offers no countervailing public-interest benefit to offset the increased costs, and may actually diminish consumer welfare by substituting the [FCC’s] judgement for the choice of the end-user customer, who has multiple wireless carriers from which to select,” said CTIA President Thomas Wheeler in a letter to Powell.
“That’s ridiculous!” exclaimed Carl Hilliard, president of the Wireless Consumers Alliance. CTIA “just wants to strip away any vestiges of protections for consumers.”
The issue of whether wireless carriers must give their customers at least 30 days notice before shutting off service became more acute with the WorldCom Inc. bankruptcy.
At the time of its bankruptcy, WorldCom operated the nation’s largest wireless resale business. It still operates the SkyTel paging service, one of the biggest paging services.
CTIA says the FCC is solving a problem that doesn’t exist by imposing wireline regulations to the competitive wireless industry.
“The FCC is acting prematurely. . Don’t try to correct the problem until there is a problem. Why go looking for a problem?” said Andrea Williams, CTIA assistant general counsel.
Williams conceded that customers have an investment with carriers, in terms of purchased handsets and telephone numbers, but she believes a competitive marketplace where carriers are always looking for new subscribers will protect customers. RCR