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The Fate of Net Neutrality Hinges on the House

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WASHINGTON -- 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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