RCA Advises Alaskan Consumers to Use Caution
When Signing Up for New Cellular Phone Service.

In conjunction with consumer tips released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Early Termination Fees (ETFs) associated with wireless phone service contracts, the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) wants consumers to be fully aware of consumer protection and service quality standards (3 AAC 53.450).

Generally, the RCA does not handle complaints regarding wireless services.  The RCA's primary oversight of wireless service providers involves their designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC).  When a wireless phone company has been designated as an ETC, the wireless company is eligible to receive federal and state universal service funds to operate, maintain and upgrade facilities for the provision of telecommunications services.  In return, the wireless company must provide all of the services the universal service program specifies, including Lifeline and Link Up program, a discounted phone service for qualified customers.  Furthermore, a wireless company designated as an ETC must comply with the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association's Consumer Code for Wireless Service by:

·     disclosing rates and terms of service to customers;

·     making available maps showing where service is generally available;  

·     providing contract terms to customers and confirming changes in service;

·     allowing a trial period for new service;

·     providing specific disclosures in advertising;

·     separately identifying carrier charges from taxes on billing statements;

·     providing customers the right to terminate service for changes to contract terms;

·     providing ready access to customer service;

·     promptly responding to consumer inquiries and complaints received from government agencies; and

·     abiding by policies for protection of consumer privacy. 

If Lifeline and Link Up customers have a complaint about their wireless phone services, the customers may contact the RCA's Consumer Protection & Information Section at (907) 276-6222 or 1-800-390-2782 (outside Anchorage). For all other wireless services issues, contact the Alaska Attorney General's Consumer Protection Unit at (907) 269-5200 or toll-free at 1-888-576-2529, or the FCC at 1-888-CALL-FCC. 

FCC Consumer Tips on ETF
Date Issued: 6/3/2010