FCC Consumer Website Offers Telecom Information

Want to know more about SAR? Bill shock? Broadband rates? The FCC has launched a Consumer Help Center portal to empower consumers to read up, leave comments or file complaints themselves.

The Federal Communications Commission is launching a Consumer Help Center Website, where consumers can get the latest information about telecommunications issues raised before the FCC, seek tips before making communications purchases, express their opinions and file complaints.

"Our new Consumer Help Center makes it easy for consumers to learn about our work and take action," Joel Gurin, chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the FCC, said in a statement. "Here, in one place, consumers can do a number of things, such as read about consumer issues, get practical advice for avoiding problems, file a complaint comment on our rulemakings or read what our FCC experts are saying in our Consumer Blog."

Prominent consumer issues currently highlighted on the site include online security and privacy concerns, information on broadband speeds and how to test them, early termination fees and "bill shock." The site was announced July 27.

In May, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar called on the FCC to take action against the early termination fees imposed by many wireless carriers. In her argument, Klobuchar pointed to an FCC study that found consumers were largely confused about the terms of their wireless contracts and a number had experienced "bill shock"-surprise at a considerable one-time increase on a bill that they didn't understand the reason for. The new Consumer Help Center offers links to such studies and resources where consumers can learn tips for avoiding bill shock.

In another example, consumers can now read about cell phone SAR (specific absorption rates)-another topic widely covered in the news, following CTIA's lawsuit against the city and county of San Francisco, which would like to have the SAR level of each phone displayed more prominently-and the FCC's findings on the SAR of various devices.

The Help Center was created by the FCC's Consumer Task Force, an interbureau group established by Chairman Julius Genachowski at the start of 2010. For more information, visit fcc.gov/consumers.