FCC will debate ETF during June 12 hearing

The FCC has scheduled a hearing on June 12 to discuss early termination fees(ETFs)--the penalties cell phone carriers charge customers that end their contracts early. Much of this hearing could focus on other industries such as cable and Internet, which also charge customers fees when they terminate their contracts early.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told the Washington Post that while the ETF issue has been focused on the wireless industry, it could have implications for other industries. Early termination fees were among the five most common complaints by cell phone users, who filed more than 20,000 service-related complaints with the FCC in 2007.

Carriers have pushed the FCC to rule that cancellation fees are part of the rates carriers charge their customers, as opposed to a fee. That type of definition would pre-empt lawsuits that are occurring in state courts.

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