CTIA Statement After President Obama Signed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act into Law
In response to U.S. President Barack Obama signing the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act (S. 517) into law, I said:
“Again, CTIA thanks Senator Leahy and Congressman Goodlatte for their work in crafting a piece of legislation that promotes consumer flexibility without imposing new regulations on America's wireless carriers. They are to be commended for finding an appropriate balance.
“Even though the vast majority of Americans enjoy upgrading to new devices once their contract terms are fulfilled, we recognize that some consumers may want to unlock their devices to move to another carrier. Like the voluntary commitment CTIA's carriers entered into last December, this bill enables that process. Users should keep in mind unlocked does not necessarily mean interoperable, as carrier platforms and spectrum holdings vary.”
CTIA’s AccessWireless.org is the “first stop” for people with disabilities and older generations to find the wireless devices and services to meet their unique needs. With information specifically for people with vision, hearing, mobility and manipulation, speech and cognition impairments, AccessWireless.org offers easy to use guides and tips to help users get the most out of accessible wireless devices and services.
Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping around:
- Know Before You Go: Wireless manufacturers and service providers are constantly working on new accessibility features to fit your needs. Use the “Find a Phone” tool on AccessWireless.org to search for accessible wireless handsets. You can also consult wireless service providers and manufacturers as well as educators and healthcare professionals to help identify features, capabilities and applications that can help someone use wireless.
- Find Your Plan: Wireless service providers offer a wide range of service plans that offer people choices in voice, text and data services. Depending on your or your family’s needs, information is available on the wireless service providers’ websites and customer service representatives are available to help answer questions about selecting the right service, including text and data-only plans.
- Try Before You Buy: Before making a decision, take the time to test out several devices in the store and consider which features you need. Wireless service representatives can even help set up a device for your specific needs. You can also take advantage of any return and exchange policies that allow consumers to try the device and service in their regular setting.
For more information about wireless accessibility, including direct access to accessibility websites, HAC training videos and tips and guides visit www.AccessWireless.org.
Once you’ve found the right device, it’s important to think about how and where you want to use it. From determining how much data or voice minutes you need to understanding contract terms, you’ll find sorting through the wireless plan options are a lot easier by answering the following questions:
Prepaid vs. Postpaid:
- Do you want to pay up front or do you want a long-term contact?
- Prepaid means you pay for your usage up front. While it makes sticking to a specific budget easier, if you go over your allotted voice, data or texts, that feature will not work on your device until you purchase more. However, if voice minutes run out, your device can still call 911.
- Postpaid means that you sign a contract with a carrier for a specific deal or plan. This may mean a discounted device or deals in the long-run, but there will be terms and conditions that must be met.
- When does the billing cycle begin and end?
- How much voice, data and texts are allowed in each plan?
- What happens if you go over the “allotted” amount? How much does it cost?
- Is there a way to restrict usage, so that users, such as kids, don’t go over?
- How long is the contract for?
- Is there a trial period?
- If you want to change plans or get a new device before your contact is up, will that cost extra or extend the contracts length?
- If you end the contract early, is there an Early Termination Fee (ETF)?
- What’s the plan’s coverage area?
- What happens if you travel outside the coverage area or abroad?
Insuring and protecting your device:
- Does the provider offer any sort of device insurance, in case your device breaks or is lost or stolen?
- Are there available anti-virus software or other security protections?
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