US wireless not competitive enough - FCC
Too much power in too few hands?
The FCC has published its annual report on the competitiveness of the US wireless industry, and says there's not enough of it - despite industry howls to the contrary.
The report covers part of 2008 and most of 2009, and leaves industry body the CTIA "disappointed and confused as to why [the FCC has] chosen not to make a finding of ‘effective competition’ for that year". The CTIA goes on to express its concerns about the threatened "policy levers" that might be used to increase competition in a business that the industry believes is already fiercely competitive.
Not everyone involved thinks more legislation is needed. Republican members of the FCC argued against more rules, though in his comment Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps suggests: "We are going to need an extra dose of vigilance going forward and use whatever policy levers we have available to ensure good outcomes for American consumers."
The problem, of course, is that the numbers can be applied to give any result one wishes. Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell points out that more than three quarters of Americans can now choose between three or more wireless providers, and almost 90 per cent can decide between two, but Democrat Mignon Clyburn uses the same figures to show that 2.4 million Americans are stuck with only one wireless option, while 900,000 have no wireless provider at all.
In his summary (pdf) Julius Genachowski (FCC Chair) tries to argue that declaring whether the industry is competitive or not is too simplistic, rather stacks of statistics should be obtained that can be referenced over time to establish trends.
The report is in its 14th year, and so far that trend is for more devices providing more services to a greater proportion of the population. So while there may be concerns about excessive consolidation of wireless businesses and too much concentration in radio spectrum holdings, for the moment everything is progressing acceptably. ®
Building on what Dadz says: Only huge carriers could afford to trategically reserve bandwidth to shut out smaller competitors. "
In fact it's worse that that. There are clear cases of companies buying up spectrum solely to sit on it -- not just carriers where they may use it some day, but in one case a consortium of cable cos. They reportedly bought a bunch of AWS (1700/2100) spectrum SOLELY to sit on it, so they would have fewer competitors to cable high speed internet.
In terms of blah-de-blah regulations, the only one I would call for is a "use it or lose it" provision of sorts. The cellular band had this, and in fact it was used to take cellular licenses back from companies that didn't build them out, and hand them over to companies that would. There used to be a fixed mhz cap, but Verizon AT&T etc. argued with increase customers, and usage, that they may need that many mhz just to operate. This allows them to have as many mhz as they want, as long as they are actually using them. It also increases competition, since so many owners have huge swaths they have no intention of using. Since these swaths are opened up for others to use, it at least lowers the barriers to competition. If there's still no competition, well, natural monopolies do exist (that is, a monopoly where the company isn't blocking out competitors, there just aren't any.)
So that's what we're talking about?
"Wireless what?" I wondered.
At least I knew it was unlikely to be wireless telegraphy, but you ought to be a little embarrassed by how vague your summary turned out to be. There seems to have been a rather large lump of context set adrift in the mid-Atlantic.
I don't know about the US but in Canada it's not so much the lack of choice in providers, but the fact they all rip off the consumer, and they all provide horrible service. You never hear anyone say ANYTHING positive about telecoms, just how horrible they all are.