FCC to vote on wireless industry competition inquiry; Watch out Verizon and AT&T

FCC to vote on wireless industry competition inquiry; Watch out Verizon and AT&T

Summary: The Federal Communication Commission will vote Aug. 27 on a broad inquiry into wireless industry competition.

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The Federal Communication Commission will vote Aug. 27 on a broad inquiry into wireless industry competition. The FCC move is likely to put AT&T and Verizon under the regulatory microscope.

In a notice (Techmeme),  the FCC said it will hold an open meeting next week to "consider a Notice of Inquiry to seek to understand better the factors that encourage innovation and investment in wireless and to identify concrete steps the Commission can take to support and encourage further innovation and investment in this area."

Clearly the FCC is more proactive than in recent years. The FCC has been looking into wireless industry practices including number portability, exclusive handset deals and even the Google Voice app flap with Apple and AT&T.

In addition, the FCC is looking for "opportunities to protect and empower American consumers by ensuring sufficient access to relevant information about communications services." Given Verizon and AT&T are the two largest wireless players in the U.S. you can rest assured they'll take most of the heat.

Topics: Verizon, Government, Government US, Mobility, Networking, AT&T, Wi-Fi

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26 comments
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  • How does the current setup stiffle innovation?

    Is the fcc indicating that they feel phones are not as advanced as they should be, or that wireless networks are not as innovative as they chould be?
    GuidingLight
    • The current setup prevents consumers from ....

      1. Choosing the device they want
      2. Using it with the best service that fits their needs.
      3. Using their device/service as THEY see fit

      If the consumer is not free to chose the best then innovators are out in the cold. The ONLY innovation being supported is "new ways to fleece the customer"!
      Right now consumer's hands are tied by the "service" providers. The FCC exists to serve the PUBLIC interest, not the business interest.
      kd5auq
      • Why bother.....

        The majority of American's are begging for the government to step out of the way and let large corporations bend them over. I sometimes wish they'd just go somewhere else and enjoy their torture.
        storm14k
      • Agreed

        If I want to have an iPhone for myself and get a Sidekick for my daughter, I have to have 2 different plans with 2 different companies.

        Also, I don't understand why most phones that are released worldwide are never released in the US by any of the major carriers. There are TONS of great phones out there that the general public will never even hear about.
        filippino1@...
      • The Public Does Not Understand the Industry

        The real issue is that the customer base wants to use their iPhone with Verizon or Sprint. Someone want to tell me how you do that? Maybe the government can force Apple to produce a CDMA version of the phone? I understand that the FCC is in place to protect competition, but it is blatantly obvious that people who complain about wanting to "choose the device/choose the provider" do not understand the technology in this particular business.
        cmedeir
        • Bravo, someone gets it

          I suspect Apple wishes they didnt have an exclusive agreement now as they are locked out of a lot of potential sales and their network partner has givent them nothing but grief.

          otaddy
          • That's already changing

            This development's been going on since long before this FCC vote

            http://www.usatoday.com/tech/wireless/phones/2009-04-26-apple-verizon-iphone_N.htm

            http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Mobile-and-Wireless/Verizon-Executives-Coy-About-iPhone-Agreements-During-Financial-Call-519333/

            Or have you chosen to ignore it?
            Wintel BSOD
    • Travel abroad much?

      I've been in some third world countries that are ahead of us in mobile phone technology. I'm not saying ALL of them, but some are. I also recognize these countries have terrible landline infrastructure, so there was more need. Nonetheless, the US is behind a number of other countries and I think well behind Europe. (Frankly, I suspect that Verizon's CDMA, being incompatible with AT&T and the rest of the WORLD, is really hurting the U.S. mobile industry, due to lack of interoperability.)
      bmgoodman
    • Yes, no, all of the above, none of the above

      The FCC is not saying anything. They are investigating.

      That said, their job is to make sure big companies do not abuse their position, and stifle innovation. Any type of innovation.

      Now, IMO that cell carriers focus on innovating ways to lock the customer in. They honestly don't care how well their services match your needs as long as those "services" don't push you away. Having exclusive contracts limiting where you can use your handset is a blatantly abusive way of keeping the customers with a given service provider.
      tikigawd
      • Correct, but contracts only work once

        As sprint found out. Once their contracts are up, people wont come back if they dont like the service they are getting.

        otaddy
  • Yes I do and the US does quite well

    Nearly all the predominant wireless access protocols are available here. WiMax, CDMA, GSM are all live--although wimax has limited deployment--and LTE is currently under test.

    In fact, the US will probably have one of the first large scale LTE deployments in the world--before Europe--although I expect them to be close.

    While you guys are talking about non-issues, the carriers are busy upgrading to fiber backhaul and an all-IP core.

    Asia is probably the leader when it comes to adopting new technology but the US and Europe are not much different--probably because we both have intrusive govt bureaucracy.
    otaddy
    • Incompatible nich technologies due to gov't inaction!

      The Asian governments are MUCH more intrusive than any American administration has ever been. There intrusion, however, is in their national interest rather than foreign business interests which is why they are so far ahead of us. If allowed, most businesses will do the least they can for the highest immediate return; damn the future!
      kd5auq
      • The future?

        [i]If allowed, most businesses will do the least they can for the highest immediate return[/i]

        That's exactly what they do TODAY!
        tikigawd
      • How is Asia Ahead of Us?

        And just who is "us"?
        cmedeir
      • then how come Asia uses so many different standards?

        Asian markets have some of the widest variety of standards anywhere in the world, GSM, CDMA, W-CDMA, and so on.

        No one size solution imposed by govt on them.

        So are you saying the US govt should have forced everyone to use CDMA since an American company, Qualcomm gets all the royalties? That doesnt sound fair to me.

        Keen observation that most businesses want the most return for the least effort...most people operate the same way. Perhaps a govt officer should be appointed to make sure you are working up to your potential.

        otaddy
    • Intrusive burearcracy?

      which bureaucrat has slowed 3G deployment in US? Verizon started in 2001 and large chunks of this country have no 3G for miles. And yes they got plenty of subsidies along the way to accelerate deployment. Think we will see 4G broadly? 2020 in most of country if we follow the 3G path.

      which bureaucrat tells US carriers to meter minutes twice - incoming and outgoing calls

      which bureaucrat tells AT&T to charge $ 1 to 4 a minute when we roam overseas when local carriers allow you to call back for pennies

      which bureaucrat told most of the carriers to sue Vonage because they supposedly had precedent VoIp patents - but years later they still do not themselves offer or mess with other with VoIp apps?

      I am a free market guy but we have a bastardized free market here in the US. The bureaucrats need to step in and clean it up some
      vmirchan
      • correct, we have a mixed economy not a free market

        and thats the problem. Cant name all the bureaucrats since federal, state, and local govts all have their hands in the mix.

        http://www.nypost.com/seven/04132009/news/regionalnews/phone_taxes_are_cell_hell_164180.htm

        Likewise there are rules telling carriers what they can charge for service, where they can provide service.

        But here's a good one, the govt collects a tax and then gives some of the proceeds to some of the carriers.
        http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20090615-712120.html

        Still think the govt is on your side and will clean up the mess?
        otaddy
    • At a cost

      Sure, there are pockets of almost every technology somewhere within the US. However, there is nothing universally accepted. Can you imagine electrical outlets being "locked" into the service of specific power utilities? This outlet is "locked" to ConEd and that outlet is "locked" to TXU.

      The cellular phone makers and service marketers have colluded to restrain trade so that the consumer is "locked" to specific carrier.

      At a minimum, product labeling MUST indicate whether or not the device is "locked" by a marketing ploy. We expect that food packaging is labeled with the content weight or volume. The same should be true of cell phones.

      The current sales process does not inform the consumer fully regarding what they are buying. They purposely confuse the consumer with a low-ball price on the phone because it is "locked" to only use their monthly service.

      One might make an argument that this is false advertising.
      pwatson
      • Outlet is standard...depending on your country

        but it is hardwired to the local power company.

        But I agree, contracts are too confusing and those "unlimited plans" werent really unlimited. Certainly a lawsuit is justified in these cases.

        But I find it hard to believe that people signing a 2 yr contract for service dont know what they are getting. And if you dont want a contract, go pre-paid, there are plenty of offerings.
        otaddy
  • RE: FCC to vote on wireless industry competition inquiry; Watch out Verizon and AT&T

    this is a repeat of the situation of when the telephone was first invented, when everyone had a private line to everyon else. hence 'the network' was born.
    Problem is, Vz, AT&T, Sprint & TMobile all have their own networks and ways of doing things. To use their network you need their device.
    Back in the 60's, USOC was implemtend to ensure that everyone could plug in whatever phone they wanted (the modular jack we now call it). So why can't we have a similar thing in the world of wireless? Why not force the phone manufactuers and wireless carriers to stay with one open standard, so that you could buy service from one carrier and a phone at walmart. SIM cards are the way to do this along with a nationally adopted mobile standard. We have no nationally adpoted standard because no one has forced the issue. The only thing the FCC is doing right now is acting like that annoying little brother or sister who asks you every 10 minutes if they can use your skateboard... They need to act like the big parent who says "enough of this malarkey, we need standards and here's what we're telling you to do..."
    seannj427