The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jenn Ettinger, media coordinator, 202-265-1490 x 35

GAO: FCC Should Do More for Wireless Competition


Today, Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Henry
Waxman (D-Calif.) released a report by the Government Accountability
Office on the wireless industry. The GAO report acknowledges the views
of many stakeholders that spectrum policies, special access prices,
early termination fees and exclusive handset arrangements have created
significant advantages for the largest national wireless companies and
have limited consumer choice and competition. The GAO recommended that
the Federal Communications Commission expand its data collection efforts
related to industry investment and costs to consumers.

Free Press Policy Counsel M. Chris Riley made the following statement:

"The GAO's findings, together with the FCC's recent report on
wireless competition, paint a clear picture of an increasingly
concentrated industry, in which competitors and consumers pay high
prices to pad the high profit margins of AT&T and Verizon. Inflated
backhaul costs, misguided spectrum policies and exclusive rights to
popular devices have fostered an environment where companies cannot
compete on a level playing field. With the lack of competition,
consumers are paying the price through early termination penalties,
hidden and vague usage restrictions, and non-transparent, nonsensical
charges and fees.

"We are pleased that the FCC has expanded its analysis and is no
longer rubber-stamping a broken market as competitive. We encourage the
FCC to heed the GAO's recommendations and further expand its data
collection, focusing in particular on the uncompetitive and concentrated
mobile broadband market. The FCC must move from analysis to action, and
enact public interest policies that can help improve competition and
protect consumers as the mobile broadband market grows."

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