Today, ads for the latest fourth-generation (4G) networks and products are everywhere. According to Consumer Watchdog (www.consumerwatchdog.org), however, technical speed standards for “4G” mobile technology are universally ignored by US cell-phone companies. They promise “faster, 4G” speeds in virtually every advertisement “without actually making improvements to existing products and services or without disclosing the meaning of ‘faster.’” As a result, the group is asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to require that cell-phone companies disclose average data speeds.

Specifically, the petition calls upon the FCC to adopt rules requiring wireless carriers to provide several disclosures in advertisements that make claims about data speed. For example, they should disclose the average data speeds that subscribers experience while using the advertised network or device (within the city or area where the advertisement appears). Also, the carrier should provide the national average data speeds that subscribers experience while using the advertised network or device. They also should share average data speeds to support any speed comparison made in the advertisement.

In addition, the proposed rule requires that wireless carriers provide consumers, at any point of sale, with certain information. For every network that a wireless carrier operates, for example, consumers should be given the average data speeds that subscribers experience while using the network within each city or area covered by the network. They also should receive the national average data speeds that subscribers experience while using the network. For every mobile-broadband device that a wireless carrier sells, consumers should know the average data speeds that subscribers experience while using the device within each city or area covered by the network. They also should be given the national average data speeds that subscribers experience while using the device.