The FCC held hearings today to discuss early termination fees (ETF) for wireless carriers, the ~$175 charged if a customer exits contract before the contract is up. FCC Chairman Kevin “Golden Child” Martin’s proposals largely mirrored those offered by the carriers themselves last month. Here’s what he said today:
- ETFs should be relative to the phone’s cost; a $5 phone should have a lower fee than a $50
- ETFs should go down month by month
- Contract lengths should be “reasonable” (whatever that means)
- Extended a contract shouldn’t refresh the ETF (no shit, they’ve already recouped the cost of the cellphone)
- People should be able to get their first bill and look it over before the ETF goes into effect
Cellphone companies are eager to push for federal regulation so it can preempt state regulation and get them off the hook for various multibillion dollar class action lawsuits over ETFs. It’s easier to control one body than 50. In my opinion, ETFs should be abolished and consumers should be able to purchase unlocked cellphones directly from manufacturers that they can port to any compatible carrier.
FCC chief lays out plan for cell phone fees [Washington Post]