August 24, 2009

FCC readies probe of wireless competition

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is preparing to launch a major push to strengthen consumer protections for wireless users, advocates say.

The FCC, starting with its regular meeting Thursday, will turn its attention to barriers to new competitors in the wireless industry, and to the billing practices used by providers, such as the industry practice of requiring long-term contracts, USA Today reported Monday.

There's a cop back on the beat at the FCC on behalf of consumers, and it's a welcome one, particularly if they deliver, Ben Scott, public policy director at Free Press, a consumer advocacy group, told the newspaper.

This is leading to a bigger action by the FCC, predicted Joel Kelsey, public policy analyst at Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.

The agency's investigation of wireless competition comes as AT&T revealed that its deal with Apple to be the sole provider of service to iPhones includes a right to block users from using applications allowing them to place cheaper Internet-based telephone calls, USA Today said.