FCC gives Verizon an extension to explain ETF policy

The FCC granted Verizon Wireless an extension until Monday to explain its policies regarding early termination fees (ETFs) and unintended mobile Web access charges. Verizon was originally supposed to have replied to the FCC by the end of the day yesterday.

Earlier this month, the FCC sent a letter to Verizon asking the nation's largest carrier to explain its recently announced "advanced devices" ETF, which raises the pro-rated fee to $350 for devices including netbooks and some smartphones. The FCC also questioned the  $1.99 fee Verizon charged some users for unintended mobile Web access, following media reports about the incident.

In November, Verizon announced it would raise its ETF from $175 to $350 for what it termed "advanced devices," which include some netbooks and smartphones. Early termination fees essentially are intended to protect the subsidy wireless carriers apply to the handsets they sell. The fees also serve to deter customers from opening a new line of service, paying for a subsidized device, canceling the line and then selling the device for a profit.

Verizon has defended both practices, and has said in the past that customers can choose to buy a phone at full price with no ETF or buy the device at a discount with a one- or two-year contract, noting that if customers stay with their contract, there is no fee. 

As for the mobile Web charges, Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson told FierceWireless earlier this month that "a few months ago we modified our service plans so when somebody accidentally turns on a data service they don't want, and they quickly turn that service off, there's no charge. Even if this happens a few times a month, there shouldn't be a charge on the bills."

For more:
- see the FCC's letter to Verizon
- see this Washington Post article
- see this Electronista post

Related Articles:
Lawmakers, FCC target carriers' ETF policies
Lawmaker disapproves of Verizon's ETF changes
Rumor Mill: Verizon to double ETF to $350 on 'advanced devices'
T-Mobile jumps on ETF bandwagon

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