FCC Votes Unanimously to Make Wireless Industry’s Life a Living Hell

Published on August 28, 2009
by John Paczkowski


It’s going to be a rough couple of months for the wireless industry.

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved a broad inquiry into the wireless market. In a unanimous vote, the agency’s five commissioners–three Democrats and two Republicans–approved two so-called notices of inquiry, one that will examine competition and innovation and another that will evaluate truth-in-billing practices.

“I can’t think of a more important moment to be considering these issues,” FCC chairman Julius Genachowski told a hearing in Washington. “Many Americans are learning to do more with less. A surprise charge on a monthly bill, or a new service that does not perform as advertised, can be a major budget-buster, especially as household spending on communications grows ever larger. This FCC will have a relentless focus on innovation and investment, on competition and consumers.”

Genachowski added that these inquiries could lay the groundwork for the examination of other industries such as cable and Internet. “I hope the new wireless competition report will help set a standard for fact-based, analytically deep analysis of the mobile industry,” he said. “It is essential that the commission develop policies that encourage a new generation of innovators, working with new tools, on new platforms, and having an extraordinary impact on our economy and society.”

The wireless industry’s trade group, CTIA, welcomed the inquiry through gritted teeth, saying it “appreciates the opportunity to respond” to the FCC’s questions. “The wireless ecosystem–from carriers to handset manufacturers to network providers to operating-system providers to application developers–is evolving before our eyes and this is not the same market that it was even three years ago,” said president and chief executive Steve Largent. “In this industry, innovation is everywhere.”

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