& cplSiteName &

Carriers Respond to FCC's Competition Concerns

Sarah Thomas
5/21/2010
50%
50%

It wasn't what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's massive annual report on the state of the wireless industry said that has wireless operators up in arms; it's what it didn't say. The 308-page report heralded the successes of the industry, but for the first time, did not conclude that it is competitive.

To support its omission, the FCC pointed out that since 2003, market concentration has increased by 32 percent. It never came out and called the market uncompetitive, but focused instead on the fact that 60 percent of the nation's subscribers and revenue come from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless . They continue to gain subscribers, while Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. continue to bleed them. (See T-Mobile Hangs Growth Hopes on HSPA+ in US, Sprint Pins Hopes on WiMax Phone, AT&T Stays Mum on Tiered Mobile Data Pricing, and Verizon Reports Q1.)

The report included a number of interesting charts depicting various aspects of the wireless industry and competition, but also demonstrated there's a number of ways to define competition.



For that reason, the FCC was careful to just present the data and break down the different wireless service inputs, including spectrum, backhaul, handsets and mobile applications, but the wireless operators were equally as careful to quickly present their own definitions of competition.

Wireless industry wards off regulation
CTIA president and CEO Steve Largent sided with AT&T and Verizon, highlighting the industry's investments as evidence of competition. This included the $44 billion that the US wireless industry invested in networks and spectrum in 2008, which, Largent said, was significantly more than Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK combined invested.

"We are very concerned, however, about the potential misuse of 'policy levers' that are referenced in the Report and believe that any attempt to add regulation to wireless as a result of this Report would be both misguided and harmful to consumers," Largent wrote on the CTIA blog.

Both Kathleen Grillo, Verizon senior vice president of federal regulatory affairs, and Robert Quinn, AT&T senior vice president of regulatory affairs, pointed out that the FCC has agreed with them for the past six reports and that reports of consumer satisfaction back up the competitiveness in the market. They also cited innovation in smartphones and applications as evidence of a competitive market. Quinn called the report "disappointing" and even "baffling" for contradicting its own evidence that the market is "working, delivering choices and value."

"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," Quinn wrote.

Sprint was the only one that deviated from its larger competitors, applauding the FCC's recognition of the competitive environment. A spokesman defended Sprint's stance in his blog, cautioning that "you need to remember who owns Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility -- landline companies who benefit greatly from the current regulatory system."

A T-Mobile spokeswoman only deferred to the CTIA's canned comments on the matter.

Is regulation imminent?
The FCC has taken a more active interest in the wireless industry than past bodies that just rubber-stamped completion, says Craig Settles, CEO of broadband consultancy Successful.com. Chairman Julius Genachowski has been pushing for net neutrality regulation, which he believes should encompass wireless. (See FCC Chairman Defends Calls for Net Neutrality.)

The industry, meanwhile, continues to fight back against this, claiming that spectrum limitations exempt them from the rules of wired networks. As is clear in their rebuttals and definitions of competition, AT&T and Verizon fear they will be denied access to the multi-billion dollar spectrum auction planned for the end of next year. (See FCC Opens Up 25MHz in 2.3GHz Band.)

"If there wasn't the threat of net neutrality, this report would not raise as much concern and consternation in the industry as it has," Settles says. "But, because they know net neutrality is on the horizon -- they know there's a bunch of ticked-off customers driving this move toward net neutrality -- they are going into spasms. They view this thing as, if there's not competition, they will be regulated. That's straight direct line in their mind eyes, so they put forth all these talking points."

[Ed. note: This article is part one of a two-part series. Coming next: "Defining 'Competition.'"]

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
From The Founder
Download our complete guide to de-risking NFV deployment in 2016, including:
  • An eight-step strategy to deploying NFV safely, based on input from the companies that have already started virtualizing their production networks.
  • Interviews with leading executives at Colt, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Cisco, Nokia, ZTE, Ericsson and Heavy Reading.
  • Flash Poll
    Live Streaming Video
    Prepping for the Future: Upskill U Explained
    During this short kick-off video, Doug Webster, Vice President of Service Provider Marketing, Cisco, and Light Reading’s CEO & Founder Steve Saunders give an overview of Upskill U.
    LRTV Interviews
    AT&T Expert on the Key Pillars of UC

    4|29|16   |   03:58   |   (0) comments


    Vishy Gopalakrishnan, AVP of product marketing at AT&T, talks about the three developments that are making unified communications and collaboration secure and reliable for enterprise users.
    LRTV Documentaries
    LRTV Report: Mobile Core Innovation

    4|28|16   |   25:32   |   (0) comments


    Hear from multiple industry experts from Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom, Heavy Reading, Huawei, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, NEC and many more about developments in the mobile core as operators virtualize their IMS and evolved packet core systems and prepare for a 5G world.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    NFV World Congress Highlight

    4|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


    The highlight of the NFV World Congress contains exciting telecom news. Join us for an inside look at Huawei's ICT 2020 plan and its latest collaboration with industry leaders.
    LRTV Interviews
    Unified Comms Finds Its Voice

    4|25|16   |   03:44   |   (0) comments


    Peter Quinlan, VP of UCC Product Management at Tata Communications, talks about the evolution of the unified communications and collaboration services sector and how voice is now a big part of current developments.
    LRTV Documentaries
    So... What Do We Do Now?

    4|25|16   |   03:24   |   (0) comments


    After a long hiatus, Max Dingman, the CEO of a GeeGhiz, returns for a motivational board room pep talk.
    LRTV Documentaries
    NAB 2016 Highlights

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Light Reading's Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick climbs down from the slots to tell us about the latest news in broadcast technology at NAB 2016 in Las Vegas.
    Between the CEOs
    CEO Chat: Deepfield's Craig Labovitz

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Shades of Ray
    Leading Lights 2016: Shortlists Announced

    4|20|16   |   0:53   |   (0) comments


    The judging is over and the Leading Lights 2016 shortlists have been published -- you can see who made the cut by clicking on this link.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Introducing MulteFire – Qualcomm at MWC 2016

    4|18|16   |   3.29   |   (0) comments


    MulteFire is the latest option for using LTE in unlicensed spectrum. As oppose to its close 'siblings', LAA and LTE-U, MulteFire operates solely in unlicensed spectrum, which enables it to offer the best of two worlds – LTE-like performance with WiFi-like deployment simplicity. In this interview, Sanjeev Athalye, Sr. Director, Product Management at Qualcomm ...
    Between the CEOs
    CEO Chat: Grant Van Rooyen of Cologix

    4|18|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    ONS 2016 – Demonstration of Huawei's NetMatrix Multi-Vendor SDN Orchestrator

    4|15|16   |     |   (0) comments


    This demonstration shows how Huawei's NetMatrix SDN Orchestrator (SDN-O) addresses an operator's core service agility needs for services spanning multi-domain, multivendor networks: it includes a demonstration of:
    - Rapid New Service Design: using YANG to model a complex example of multi-domain, multivendor L3VPN network connectivity service that ...
    LRTV Custom TV
    AT&T Wants to Own North Carolina

    4|15|16   |     |   (1) comment


    Venessa Harrison, president of North Carolina for AT&T, tells how the company will expand its GigaPower service beyond the seven N.C. cities it already serves.

  • This blog, sponsored by AT&T, is the second part of a ten-part series examining next-generation broadband technologies titled "Behind the Speeds."
  • Upcoming Live Events
    May 23, 2016, Austin, TX
    May 23, 2016, Austin Convention Center
    May 24-25, 2016, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
    December 6-8, 2016,
    June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    All Upcoming Live Events
    Infographics
    A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
    Hot Topics
    Ultra-Broadband Summit, Hong Kong
    Iain Morris, News Editor, 4/27/2016
    WiCipedia: Woman Cards & Bitch Switches
    Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 4/29/2016
    Mitel Asks: What Time of Day Do You Shower?
    Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/25/2016
    GoT Fans Curse HBO (Not Right) Now
    Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/25/2016
    FCC Poised to Re-Regulate Wholesale Access
    Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 4/28/2016
    Like Us on Facebook
    Twitter Feed
    BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    Animals with Phones
    Live Digital Audio

    Of all the tech companies in the Valley, Intel has made the most aggressive commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. It's doing so by taking concrete, measurable steps, making a large financial investment and through a commitment to complete transparency about its progress. In this radio show, WiC Director Sarah Thomas will be joined by Shlomit Weiss, Intel's Vice President, Data Center Group, and General Manager of Networking Engineering, who will share with us why Intel is tackling this huge challenge, how and to what effect. She will also discuss her unique experiences leading development of Client SOC development in the past and today leading development of all of the chipmaker's silicon hardware for networking IPs and discrete devices and managing a team of 600 engineers across Israel, Europe and the US.