The Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc. (RTG) and its members are disappointed, but not surprised, that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) was unable to make a formal finding in its Sixteenth Report as to whether there is “effective competition” in the mobile wireless industry. RTG notes that this is the third report in a row in which the FCC has been unable to say with any confidence that consumers enjoy the benefits of robust competition.
“The fact that the FCC cannot reach the conclusion that the wireless market is not competitive given the market share that AT&T and Verizon collectively hold is rather frightening and leads RTG to ask if the FCC is comfortable with a duopoly moving forward” said Carri Bennet, RTG’s General Counsel. “Equally disturbing,” she added, “is the fact that while industry giants like AT&T and Verizon Wireless, who have been around for decades, are routinely touting their 4G/LTE networks, there are still over 1.3 million Americans living in rural markets without any type of mobile data coverage, and even 400,000 Americans who live outside of the range of any mobile wireless provider!”
As Commissioner Clyburn astutely noted yesterday, when the Fifteenth Report was released, 7.1 million rural Americans had access to two or fewer mobile providers. Today, that number is 7.7 million rural Americans. Unless this country adopts truly pro-consumer and pro-competition policies, the number of Americans served by an entrenched duopoly will only go up. RTG remains as focused as ever on advocating for those policies which will help rural consumers, including a push for device interoperability and device unlocking, commercially reasonable voice and data roaming rates, the FCC’s licensing of new spectrum in smaller geographic service areas, and perhaps most importantly, a limit on individual carrier spectrum holdings.
About RTG – Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc. (RTG) is a trade association representing rural wireless carriers who each serve less than 100,000 subscribers. RTG’s members have joined together to speed delivery of new, efficient and innovative telecommunications technologies to remote and underserved communities.ruraltelecomgroup.org @RTGwireless