Washington, D.C. – The Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc. (RTG), a trade association representing small, rural wireless carriers, welcomes the FCC’s highly anticipated 14th Annual Report on Mobile Wireless Competition. RTG is heartened by the fact that for the first time in almost a decade, the Commission abstains from rubber stamping the CMRS marketplace as “effectively competitive” but has instead returned to a more respectful methodology of closely examining the industry’s competitive metrics and trends while simultaneously expanding its analysis to the entire mobile wireless ecosystem. The Commission’s report has, for the first time, included data on various upstream and downstream market segments within the ecosystem, including segments such as spectrum, infrastructure and devices, all of which play a key role in defining competition. Most notably, the FCC has recognized that the mobile marketplace is most definitely transitioning from its voice-centric beginnings to one that is data-centric at its core.
Despite the awe-inspiring technological evolution at hand, and the Commission’s more honest evaluation of those developments in the ecosystem, the fact remains that certain segments of society are left out of the loop. RTG agrees with Commissioner Copps when he states that “competition has been dramatically eroded and is seriously endangered by continuing consolidation and concentration in our wireless markets.” No segment of America is more at risk to lessened or non-existent competition than Rural America.
According to the report, over 1 in 5 Americans lives in a rural county. Unfortunately, at least 3.4 million of those living in rural counties have no mobile wireless coverage whatsoever or service from only one mobile wireless carrier. This statistic is not just indicative of ineffective competition but it shows that a genuine divide does exist between rural and urban Americans. Rural Americans simply have fewer choices when it comes to mobile services.
Caressa Bennet, RTG’s General Counsel, stated, “RTG is heartened by the report’s apparent recognition of the competitive realities of the mobile wireless marketplace. As RTG has stated for years, there is no effective competition in the market for commercial mobile wireless services, and the recent accelerated concentration of spectrum in the hands of the two biggest national wireless carriers has further exacerbated competitive inequalities. RTG hopes that this recognition of competitive imbalance in the mobile wireless marketplace will lead the Commission to use its authority to address this imbalance by, among other things, moving to adopt a spectrum cap on commercial wireless spectrum below 2.3 GHz as proposed by RTG.”
RTG is appreciative of the Commission’s efforts to paint a more accurate portrait of competition within the mobile industry and it looks forward to assisting the FCC in its efforts to bring mobile access, and especially mobile broadband, to all Americans.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, RTG is a trade association representing rural wireless carriers who 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. www.ruraltelecomgroup.org
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