IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
October 12, 2011
Mr. Blumenthal (for himself, Ms. Klobuchar, and Mr. Franken) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
To require accurate disclosures to consumers of the terms and conditions of 4G service and other advanced wireless mobile broadband service.
This Act may be cited as the
Next Generation Wireless Disclosure
Congress finds the following:
In 2011, the President set a goal of bringing next generation wireless broadband Internet access service to not less than 98 percent of people in the United States within 5 years.
The Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan sets a minimum target of delivering universal, affordable broadband Internet access service with actual download speeds of not less than 4 megabits per second and actual upload speeds of not less than 1 megabit per second.
The 4 largest wireless service providers advertise 4G service using different wireless mobile broadband technologies.
Although the International Telecommunication Union has expanded its definition of 4G service to include these technologies, theoretical peak speeds and actual speeds experienced by consumers vary widely across technologies and service providers.
In 2010, the United States wireless industry generated almost $160,000,000,000 in revenue, with approximately $50,000,000,000 of this total derived from wireless data.
Consumers need accurate information before selecting a provider of wireless mobile broadband service.
Providers and other sellers of advanced wireless mobile broadband service should be required to make accurate and reasonable disclosures of the terms and conditions of such service in order to give consumers the necessary information to make informed decisions about such service and to promote greater transparency in the market.
In this Act:
The term 4G service includes wireless mobile broadband service that utilizes technologies that fulfill the requirements set forth in the International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced standard promulgated by the International Telecommunication Union, any forerunner technologies for which the designation “4G” has been approved by the International Telecommunication Union, and any technologies that are broadly marketed as “4G” service.
Advanced wireless mobile broadband service
The term advanced wireless mobile broadband service means 4G service or any wireless mobile broadband service that utilizes a successor technology to 4G technology.
The term best-effort delivery means the common Internet protocol network model in which a network service routes Internet protocol packets on a first-in, first-out basis and does not distinguish based on the source, type, or other unique characteristics of the Internet protocol packets for the purpose of establishing different levels of delivery priority.
The term Commission means the Federal Communications Commission.
The term on-network host means any networking routing equipment owned, operated, or within the control of a wireless mobile broadband service provider that transmits or receives Internet protocol packets or any points in a network before a subscriber’s data traffic travels to a centralized routing facility that interconnects at an exchange point with broadband service providers that are not affiliated with such wireless mobile broadband service provider.
The term postpaid means, with respect to advanced wireless mobile broadband service, that the service is not prepaid.
The term prepaid means, with respect to advanced wireless mobile broadband service, that the consumer of such service pays for a specified quantity of service (whether measured by volume of data transferred, amount of time the service is in use, or otherwise) before gaining access to such service and must affirmatively purchase any additional quantities of service before gaining access to such additional quantities.
Required disclosures of terms and conditions of advanced wireless mobile broadband service
Sale to consumers
A person who sells advanced wireless mobile broadband service directly to a consumer shall accurately disclose the terms and conditions of such service by displaying such terms and conditions consistently, clearly, and prominently in all marketing materials for such service, at the point of sale of such service, and (in the case of postpaid advanced wireless mobile broadband service) in all bills for such service. The terms and conditions disclosed shall include the information described in subsection (c).
Special rules for prepaid service
Paragraph (1) does not apply in the case of a transaction in which both—
the consumer receives a device that allows the consumer to access a specified quantity of prepaid advanced wireless mobile broadband service; and
the consumer’s interaction with the agents of the person from whom the consumer makes the purchase is such that the average consumer would not expect such agents to have expertise regarding the terms and conditions of such service.
Packagers of prepaid service
A person who packages prepaid advanced wireless mobile broadband service for ultimate sale to a consumer in a transaction described in subparagraph (A) shall accurately disclose the terms and conditions of such service by displaying such terms and conditions consistently, clearly, and prominently in all marketing materials for such service and on the packaging of the device described in subpargraph (A)(i). The terms and conditions disclosed shall include the information described in subsection (c).
Sale to resellers
A person who sells advanced wireless mobile broadband service wholesale to another person for ultimate sale to consumers shall disclose to such other person the information necessary to permit such other person to comply with subsection (a).
The information described in this subsection is the following:
The guaranteed minimum transmit and receive data rates for Internet protocol packets to and from on-network hosts for the service, expressed in megabits per second. For purposes of the preceding sentence, a minimum data rate is not guaranteed unless it is available for a percentage of the time in a calendar month to be established by the Commission.
The reliability rating of the service. The Commission shall establish a standard method that shall be used to calculate the reliability rating of the service, which shall be based on the data session start success percentage (network accessibility) and the data session completion success percentage (network retainability) of the service.
The price of the service stated in terms of—
in the case of service that is priced based on the volume of data sent or received, the price per unit of data sent or received; or
in the case of service for which a flat rate is charged for service over a given time period—
the flat rate; and
a detailed description of any limits on the use of such service over such time period, by volume of data sent or received or otherwise.
Any other charges that the consumer of the service will incur that are not included in the price as stated pursuant to paragraph (3).
The network management policies of the service with respect to Internet protocol packets to and from on-network hosts, including the following:
Any business practices or technical mechanisms employed by the service provider, other than standard best-effort delivery, that allocate capacity or prioritize traffic differently on the basis of the source of the applications, content, or services.
Any limits or prohibitions on the use of certain applications or services.
Any traffic shaping or throttling mechanisms that affect the service as a result of exceeding certain usage limits.
The technology used to provide the service.
The uniform resource locator of a website (together with a brief description of the contents of the website) on which is located the following:
The complete terms of service, acceptable use policy, and any other documentation related to the network management policies of the service provider.
A map of the coverage area of the service. If different technologies are used to provide the service in different geographic areas, the map shall indicate the technology used in each area.
Manner and form of disclosures
The Commission may prescribe the manner and form of the disclosures required by this section.
Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Commission shall promulgate regulations implementing this section.
Coverage area defined
For purposes of this section, the term
area shall have the meaning given the term by the Commission. The
Commission shall set minimum signal strength and data rate requirements in
order for a location to be considered to be within the coverage area of an
advanced wireless mobile broadband service.
Study by Federal Communications Commission
Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Commission shall complete a study evaluating the speed and pricing of advanced wireless mobile broadband service offered in the United States by the 10 largest providers of such service, as measured by the number of consumers to whom a provider provides such service in coverage areas that include any part of the United States.
Initial report to Congress
Not later than 10 days after completing the initial study required by subsection (a), the Commission shall submit to Congress a report on the results of such study.
Inclusion in annual CMRS competition reports
The Commission shall include the results of each study conducted under subsection (a) in the next report on the findings of the review required by section 332(c)(1)(C) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 332(c)(1)(C)) that is adopted after the completion of such study.