Wireless Market Deemed Concentrated By FCC

By May 21, 2010

The FCC today reversed previous findings that the wireless market is competitive, and instead issued a warning that the current market has become more concentrated. Since 2003, market concentration has increased 32 percent. Sixty

percent of the nation's subscribers and revenue come from AT&T and Verizone Wireless - the two largest wireless providers. Competitors have been losing customers to these two companies, as the FCC notes in its annual report on competition.

AT&T responded to these results in coverage provided by CNET: "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," Robert Quinn, AT&T senior vice president of regulatory affairs said in a statement. "That's why it's so disappointing that this FCC seems reluctant to acknowledge the market's success. Even more baffling is that it is contradicting its own evidence, and the evidence of our own eyes. The U.S. wireless market is working, delivering choices and value."

Concern was also expressed by CTIA, the international association for the wireless telecommunications industry. President and CEO Steve Largent believes that the commission misses "an opportunity today to truly highlight one of the few glowing examples of investment, innovation and consumer choice in the U.S. economy."

Others worry that these findings will justify more wireless industry regulation. The FCC is currently attempting to regulate Net neutrality, and Chairman Julius Genachowski believes that new rules should include wireless services. At an open meeting today, some commissioners applauded wireless industry achievements, some warned against heavy handed regulation. Such regulation may level the playing field for the smaller carriers - Sprint's representative underlined the importance of competition while the FCC works on its National Broadband plan.

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