CTIA is the wireless industry’s top lobbying organization. Their members include AT&T, Verizon and most other major wireless players in the United States. Essentially, whenever the wireless providers want something done without looking like the bad guys, they send CTIA lobbyists in to make the absurd arguments for them.
For example, when AT&T/Verizon wanted to stop the FCC from putting in place rules that forced carriers to be honest with customers about their throttling practices, the CTIA went crying to the FCC about how these rules were “absurd”, “extremely burdensome” and “not clearly understandable”. Nevermind that the rules were extremely simple and straight-forward.
When wireless carriers wanted to fight Net Neutrality in court, they sent the CTIA in court for them. When wireless carriers wanted to put together some sort of PR campaign while fighting Net Neutrality in court, the CTIA gladly went public with a “the wireless market is super competitive” narrative that failed miserably to catch on.
As I wrote last year:
Let’s set aside the fact that AT&T and Verizon both spend millions in DC to have legislation passed which restrict any competition in their industry. According to Scott Bergmann, VP of regulatory affairs at CTIA, the nation’s largest telecom trade group, the industry is competitive enough and there is no need to create competition. Yes, apparently two companies owning almost 75% of the wireless industry means that competition in the country is thriving. – BarkingTechnology
Now, wireless carriers are trying to fight back against the idea of the FCC putting together new privacy rules for consumers. The FCC is thinking about such new rules because of the common, yearly occurrences of telecom’s dealing with data breaches, companies inserting trackers on devices/web-sites, companies trying to shape wireless traffic through sneaky methods, etc…
But according to CTIA, new rules are not needed since “CTIA members already provide disclosure and transparency as part of the Consumer Code for Wireless Service.” Except, the Consumer Code for Wireless Service (“CCWS”) is a joke. Nothing in it is mandatory….it is simply voluntary.
Anyone remember when major carriers told the FCC that six measures were being added to the Consumer Code for Wireless Service so that it would be easier for consumers to unlock their cell phones? Years later, the carriers struggled to actually make any of these changes. In fact, Spring and T-Mobile simply ignored the new rules.
Or how about when carriers went state to state declaring that there was no need for state regulations on the wireless industry since carriers all agreed to the Consumer Code for Wireless Service? Except, as many state reps found out, the Code included “fairly minimal” protections for consumers.
As one Consumer Attorney noted in a 2005 report:
Another problem with the industry code is that consumers have no way to guarantee that companies are complying with it. Cell phone carriers do not have to agree to follow with the code. And for those that agree to adhere to it, the consequence of non-compliance is minimal. A company that fails to honor the code simply cannot display the wireless trade industry’s “Seal of Wireless Quality/Consumer Information.” – “Can You Hear Us Now? A Report on How the Cell Phone Industry has Failed Consumers,” WISPIRG Report, March 2005.
Basically, the Consumer Code is a set of PR rules for the mobile industry to follow whenever it suits them.