Hearing and Witness List Advisory: The Consumer Wireless Experience

June 16, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation announces the following full committee hearing:

The Consumer Wireless Experience
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Date: Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Hearing Start Time:  2:30 p.m.
Press Pre-Set Time: 1:45 p.m.
Location: Room 253, Russell Senate Office Building

This hearing will examine consumer satisfaction with wireless telecommunications service, with a special focus on handset exclusivity.  

Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV will preside over the first panel, which will feature a witness from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) who will report on a recent survey the GAO performed to assess consumers’ experience with wireless service. The GAO will also consider the effectiveness of wireless consumer complaint resolution at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).   
Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, will preside over the second panel, which will focus on handset exclusivity, or the practice of wireless carriers entering into exclusive arrangements with device manufacturers and then bundling these devices with their provision of wireless service.  

“The GAO survey is part of a larger forthcoming report on the state of consumer wireless service and the adequacy of FCC oversight,” said Rockefeller. “I have been troubled for some time that too many consumers are bound to confusing contracts with their wireless carriers.  Consumers need to understand and not be surprised by charges on their monthly wireless bills.  We also must address the important issue of the FCC getting so many consumer complaints about wireless service - but doing so little to respond.  Finally, and very importantly in my great state of West Virginia - I have very serious concerns that we have second-class wireless service in too many rural communities throughout America – this is just unacceptable to me.”
“There are now 270 million cell phone subscribers in America and 18 percent of households that rely solely on wireless phones to communicate,” said Sen. Kerry.  “As that number continues to grow, it is becoming more clear that the future of telephony in this country is traveling through the airwaves, not buried in the ground.  We need to be focused on ensuring that the wireless marketplace remains competitive, and that consumers have access to innovative technologies regardless of where they live.”

Witness List*

Panel I

Mr. Mark Goldstein, Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues, United States Government Accountability Office
Panel II

Mr. Jack Rooney, President and CEO, US Cellular
Mr. Paul Roth, President, Retail Sales and Services, AT&T Services, Inc.
Mr. Robert M. Frieden, Pioneers Chair and Professor of Telecommunications and Law, Pennsylvania State University
Ms. Barbara S. Esbin, Senior Fellow and Director, The Progress and Freedom Foundation
Mr. Hu Meena, President and CEO, Cellular South, Inc.

*Not necessarily in the order of appearance