Light Reading
FCC's enormous annual report strikes fear in AT&T and Verizon Wireless as regulation looms ahead

Carriers Respond to FCC's Competition Concerns

Sarah Reedy
LR Mobile News Analysis
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor
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
Flash Poll
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (7) comments


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving the Network Transformation

7|23|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


Intel's Sandra Rivera discusses network transformation and how Intel technologies, programs, and standards body efforts have helped the industry migration to SDN and NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Packet Design asks network professionals how they handle the cloud, SDN, and network management.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Cisco Puts a Fog Over IoT
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
U-verse Growth Slips But Still Strong
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 7/24/2014
Is Windstream Boldly Setting a New Trend?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/29/2014
Salary Survey Report 2014
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
Facebook: 30% of Users Are Mobile-Only
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/24/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed