FCC Wireless Report Does Not Conclude Market Is Competitive

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The Federal Communication Commission's 14th annual report on competition in the wireless industry did not conclude that there was effective competition. It did not conclude the opposite, either.

The FCC released the report at its monthly public meeting May 20, and the lack of that conclusion drew the attention and criticism of commission Republicans, who concurred in the report, which is a step short of full-throated support.

Meredith Attwell Baker said that the marketplace was characterized by robust wireless competition demonsrated by the report itself, so she saw no reason why the FCC should depart from past precedent.

Ruth Milkman, chief of the Wireless Bureau, said the report was focused on presenting data rather than drawing any conclusions.

The report did illustrate that mobile data use, driven by smart phones and laptops, is growing.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, explaining why the report did not include that competition conclusion, said that it did not "seek to reach an overly-simplistic conclusion about the overall level of competition in this complex and dynamic ecosystem comprised of multiple markets. He said the report complies with the congressional mandate of assessing market conditions "by providing data on trends and competition and choice over time." He added that approach "fits best with the role of the FCC as a fact-based, data-driven agency responsible for promoting copetition and protecting consumers."

He said the report shows both areas of "vibrant competition" and "of concern."

Genachowski also noted that the report's data on an "explosion of mobile innovation" supports the national broadband plan's efforts to accelerate wireless broadband deployment and reclaim spectrum.

Reposnding to the FCC vote to approve the report, Verizon senior vice president Kathleen Grillo, agreed with Baker that "the facts and the record establish conclusively that the wireless marketplace is 'effectively competitive,' as the agency has found in the previous six wireless competition reports."
"For six successive reports, the FCC has confirmed what is obvious to any consumer who watches television, walks down a busy main street or reads a newspaper -- that the wireless market is intensely competitive, with new choices in services, applications and devices available almost weekly," Grillo said
Robert Quinn, AT&T senior vice president of federal regulatory affairs added: "That's why it's so disappointing that this FCC seems reluctant to acknowledge the market's success."

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