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New Poll Shows Cell Phone Owners Believe Government Should Address Cell Phone Interoperability Rules


Consumers Union – Nonprofit Publisher of Consumer Reports

Monday, April 18, 2011

Contact:  David Butler (dbutler@consumer.org), Kara Kelber (kkelber@consumer.org): 202-462-6262

New Poll Shows Cell Phone Owners Believe Government Should Address Cell Phone Interoperability Rules

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A nationwide poll by Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, found that nearly three-quarters of Americans who own a cell phone support a government rule that would require cell phone handsets to be compatible across all U.S. cellular services.

According to the poll:

  • 73% said they would support a government rule that requires handsets to be compatible with all U.S. cellular services. This view was supported most strongly by smart phone owners (81%).
  • Virtually all respondents (96%) felt that consumers should be able to keep their existing handsets when changing carriers.
  • An overwhelming majority (88%) said that their handset should work on any cellular network they choose.

Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union said, “As technology makes it easier for people to take their phones with them when changing wireless carriers, we want to make sure this benefit is extended to all consumers. The poll results announced today make it clear that this is a feature that nearly all cell phone owners feel they should be able to utilize. It is important that we work to put rules in to place to ensure that the benefits of interoperability be made available to consumers, rather than prolonging the current trend of locking handsets to specific providers.”

The results of the poll were unveiled Friday during a panel discussion on “Should the FCC Ensure Wireless Device Choice and Interoperability”, co-hosted by the New America Foundation and Consumers Union. The panel, moderated by Rob Pegoraro of the Washington Post, was comprised of representatives from AT&T, Sprint Nextel, Rural Cellular Association, and Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey using two nationally representative probability samples: landline telephone households and cell phones. 981 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+ who own a cell phone. The margin error of this poll is +/- 3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

For a copy of the full survey, contact David Butler or Kara Kelber at Consumers Union.