From mobile phone overbilling scams to the necessity for a level playing field in upcoming spectrum auctions, Catholic University law school graduate Delara Derakhshani, Class of 2011, spoke up strongly for American consumers at a hearing on June 4th.
Derakhshani, who earned a certificate from the law school's Institute for Communications Law Studies
in 2011, serves as policy counsel for telecommunications, media, and privacy issues for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports
magazine. She was invited to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet regarding “The State of Wireless Communications,”
a broad-ranging hearing into the current state of the nation’s telecommunications services.
touched upon a number of practices that delve into consumers’ pocketbooks and, from the viewpoint of Consumer Union, limit competition and consumer choice. Most of the issues are familiar to any owner of a mobile phone with a service plan. They include unauthorized charges on consumers' wireless bills, new legal limitations on unlocking cell phones, early termination fees, and spectrum policy.
“These issues highlight some of the ways in which consumers have borne the brunt of a wireless marketplace that is not sufficiently competitive and consumer friendly,” Derakhshani said.
She strongly urged continued federal support of the Wireless Lifeline Program, which provides low cost phone service to 15-million low income families.
“We remain concerned about any proposals to exclude wireless from the Lifeline program. To do so would be to deprive the millions of low-income families who depend on cell phones for basic access to vital telecommunications services,” Derakhshani told the subcommittee.
Lawmakers sparred over whether the government should limit the ability of AT&T and Verizon to bid in the upcoming auction of airwave licenses. Consumers Union supports FCC limits to ensure that the two communications behemoths do not buy up the entire spectrum licenses at auction, potentially crippling competitors such as Sprint, T-Mobile and regional carriers.
“Wireless technology holds incredible promise for all of us, but policymakers and regulators play an important role in helping ensure that as wireless technology becomes ever more prevalent in our day-to-day lives, it delivers quality, affordability, and choice to consumers,” Derakhshani testified.