The FCC is really interested in why cellphone networks operate in the way they do. There was the probe into AT&T, Apple and Google for the Google Voice iPhone fiasco, and the recent probe into Verizon for doubling the Early Termination Fees on smartphones. The committee’s attention is still on ETFs, but now it has its eyes on more than Verizon.
The FCC today sent out letters to Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Google asking questions about their respective ETFs. Google is being asked specifically why it applies an ETF to the Nexus One on top of T-Mobile’s own ETF. The reasoning for the questions is to make sure consumers are fully informed of all ETFs by the companies. The questions focus on what ETFs the companies impose, if there are different fees for different situations and the rationale behind the fees. There are also questions asking if there are ways to avoid ETFs, and if the fees change given the circumstances of the contract.
It is nice to know the FCC is looking into the state of ETFs before other carriers begin changing them around like Verizon did recently. The only problem is with the FCC always sending out questions, and not acting, it might not change anything. It will be nice to find out why Google is charging an ETF on the Nexus One, and the rationale the companies give for using ETFs, though it is doubtful the probing will do much else. Maybe we’ll see some sort of public backlash against the carriers, but given the recent inquiry letters, that will be about it.