Wireless Industry Lobbyists Explain Why The FCC Should Back Off

The president and a vice-president for CTIA, a lobbying organization for the wireless industry, spoke recently with CNET about why they think the FCC should leave their members alone. The vice-president, Chris Guttman-McCabe, is a lawyer and as such his answers are useless. President Steve Largent, however, actually has a couple of candid moments during the interview.

When Marguerite Reardon at CNET asked the men whether or not wireless carriers should have to warn customers when roaming charges go through the roof, Guttman-McCabe first blames consumers–”It’s not as if [they] don’t already have a lot of information about usage at their fingertips”–and then says it could be technically hard as well as expensive to implement. Largent, however, goes all good cop/bad veep and says:

I don’t know how I want to say this, but I guess you could say that the carriers may not have always been very sensitive to some of these billing issues. But I don’t think they are sitting around hoping customers will run up a $10,000 bill. And often if customers go over some kind of limit, many carriers will alert the customer or call them. I think in general when issues are brought to the carrier community’s attention, they respond.

Okay, most of that was a plea to trust wireless carriers because they’re good guys, but I think it’s interesting to see the president and CEO of CTIA admit that carriers haven’t been “sensitive” to “these billing issues.”

He goes on to argue that if consumers raise enough hell, carriers will change their policies, and thus the system works and the government should stay out.
The journalist points out that actually the carriers only changed early termination fee rules after getting slapped with lawsuits and being threatened with new legislation by Congress and the FTC. Largent says:

There was some public pressure applied from consumer groups. And the industry responded. But there never had to be any new regulation implemented. I think the same could happen with Net neutrality. When there has been public pressure to change something, the industry has reacted.

Read the full interview at CNET.

“CTIA honchos dish on FCC regs (Q&A)” [CNET]