Interesting: NYT reports,

The nation’s largest cellular phone companies are set to announce today a voluntary seal-of-approval program in hopes of staving off more restrictive consumer legislation.

The national wireless carriers — Verizon Wireless, Cingular, Sprint PCS, Nextel and AT&T, along with numerous regional companies — have agreed to adhere to a 10-part code of behavior that is intended to make it easier for consumers to compare prices and plans.

All companies that display the seal must provide a minimum 14-day trial period for new customers, coverage maps describing where service is available, and specific disclosure of rates and plans, among other things.

This is good news. Despite a hypercompetitive market, shopping for cellular service is among the least transparent transactions imaginable. Each plan has some major “catch” that makes it undesirable and it requires some detective work to figure out what it is. Apples-to-apples comparison is virtually impossible, since “minutes” are an almost meaningless statistic until one figures in roaming charges, when it’s “anytime” versus “evenings,” and various hidden fees and annoyances.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. One Fine Jay says:

    Letter of the day: D
    The letter of the day is D.

    D is for declaration
    of participation.
    D is for definite.
    As in firm, and clear.
    D is for dallying,
    the time for which is over.
    D is for dumbfounding.
    At least the way young minds could …

  2. Easier Shopping for Mobile Telephones
    James Joyner at Outside the Beltway notes that shopping for mobile telephone service is about to become a good deal easier. He points to a New York Times report (registration