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There’s a lack of competition in the U.S. mobile wireless space, and it’s high time the Federal Communications Commission recognize that, the Competitive Carriers Association argued in a recent filing.

The release of the FCC’s annual “State of Competition in the Mobile Wireless Market” report is fast approaching, prompting CCA to encourage the Commission to consider economic data that will more accurately reflect a dearth of options in the marketplace.

According to CCA CEO Steven Berry, competition is not present nationwide and “varies significantly by geographic location.” This reality, he said, is something rural carriers face daily, but is not a finding that has been represented in the FCC’s analyses of the competitive state of the wireless market.

“Competitive carriers serve some of the most rural and hard-to-reach areas, and their experiences more than validate the unfortunate reality that many parts of the country do not receive, much less have competitive choice for, mobile wireless service,” Berry said in a statement. “By the end of 2016, the duopoly continued to command 71 percent of service provider market shares by service revenue, and their shared subscriber count was nearly five times greater than that of a single competitor. Compounding these numbers, AT&T and Verizon continue to engage in secondary market transactions that dilute the competitive mobile landscape and threaten other providers’ access to spectrum and content resources. The FCC cannot responsibly conclude that this data represents a competitive market without trivializing the significant contributions rural and regional carriers make to their communities every day.” 

According to Berry, the upcoming report represents a “timely opportunity” for the Commission to dive deeper into the data to “not only determine areas that still lack competition, but to move forward on items that will reduce barriers to deployment.” The latter, he said, include spectrum access issues, infrastructure reform, universal service fund reform, and better access to devices for small and rural carriers.

The Commission’s 19th annual mobile competition report, released in September of last year, concluded the wireless market offered “vibrant competition” and “unparalleled” choice for U.S. consumers.

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