U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), left, is flanked by U.S. Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), in this file photo. Eshoo wants cellular networks to disclose exactly how fast they are at given times and given places -- not just averages or peak examples.
AT&T says it has "the fastest network." T-Mobile says it has "America's largest 4G network".
And with a newl, super-enabled iPhone launching on Verizon and other networks, consumers might be wondering, "OK, who's not lying?"
Democratic Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (Palo Alto) has proposed a law that would force cell phone providers to be more straightforward about the speeds at which you connect to their networks.
Eschoo's bill -- "The Next Generation Wireless Disclosure Act" -- would require providers to tell you what sort of speeds you can reasonably expect from your home or office, and not just the advertised nationwide average or the company's best speeds in Dubuque, Iowa.
The problem here is that a company's data speeds can vary by market or even by neighborhood, depending on which cell tower you're connecting to and how many people are using that connection.
"Wireless companies advertise 4G service as ‘lightening fast’ and ‘super-charged,’ but that’s not always the case," Eshoo said. "My legislation is simple – it will require truth in advertising."
The bill would require cell phone providers like Verizon and others to be very clear how their speeds compare locally to other networks both at the point of sale and in future bills sent to consumers.
Eshoo says it would also guarantee minimum data speed and explain which technology is used to provide 4G service. What it will not do is actually define "4G" or fourth-generation connections.
Many companies claim "next generation" networks without actually adhering to strict definitions set down by engineers. The proposed law has support in the Senate with a similar bill proposed by Senator Al Franken, amongst others.
So everyone standing in line for the hot new Apple handheld? Maybe we'll know exactly how fast it really will be for the iPhone 5.