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WASHINGTON – The Federal Communications Commission’s just-issued annual report on the wireless industry does not conclude that the market reflects “effective competition.” In contrast to past years, the report – released at the agency’s monthly open meeting today -- makes no conclusions at all, but instead contains expanded analysis of various aspects of the wireless market.

M. Chris Riley, policy counsel at Free Press, made the following statement:

“The data in the FCC’s wireless competition report adopted today demonstrates what we have been arguing for years. The wireless market has substantial obstacles to effective competition, and these obstacles restrict consumer choice, service quality, service price, innovation and investment. Although we are glad the Commission is no longer blind to a broken market, we are disappointed that it apparently lacks the political courage to acknowledge these problems by concluding that the market does not demonstrate effective competition, an apparent side-stepping of the congressional requirement to conduct such an analysis. But we maintain hope that the Commission will follow this report, and the many notices and letters it has issued, with immediate action to remedy these problems.

“Consumers deserve better in the mobile marketplace after being price-gouged on data plans and swindled in the fine print of their phone bills. In today's wireless market, meaningful choice and fair prices for consumers are sorely lacking, particularly in the nascent wireless broadband market. Furthermore, the deck is stacked against smaller carriers because of the massive power of the dominant incumbents – AT&T and Verizon – that have formidable advantages in spectrum holdings, exclusive device deals, vertical integration with backhaul networks, and vastly more resources for marketing and lobbying. The market is largely controlled by two companies, and it will not dig itself out of this mess and magically produce competition. Oversight and reform are badly needed. The agency should initiate policies and rules that foster competition and innovation and create an environment where wireless carriers have to compete with one another over service price and quality.”

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