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Wireless Carriers to FCC: Our ETFs Are Fair, Thanks

No surprises here – the major wireless carriers in the United States, and new mobile entrant Google Inc. (GOOG), think their early termination fees (ETFs) are priced just fine, thank you very much.

AT&T Inc. (T), Sprint Nextel Corp. (S), T-Mobile, Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), and Google, told the FCC yesterday the charges are fair depending on which devices are involved.

The FCC in January told the providers to ‘splain why some of their ETFs soared as high as $350. Basically, providers said by Tuesday’s deadline, it all comes down to smartphones, which are growing ever more popular. Subsidizing the devices costs a lot of money, they say, and it makes sense to force customers to help recoup some of the expense if users opt out of a contract early.

T-Mobile did say a $200 ETF works well and Google made sure to point out it lowered its Nexus One “equipment recovery fee” – that hit $550 after a T-Mobile ETF was added – to $150 (after much outrage, you might recall).

AT&T didn’t have much new to say. According to reports, the exclusive carrier for the iPhone answered each of the FCC’s questions and noted its customers know their options. Sprint made similar points.

Verizon sparked the FCC inquiry when it raised its “advanced devices” ETFs from $175 to $350 – it has since dropped the price on 10 devices.

So now what? The FCC has the info it sought. What will it do with it?


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