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FCC launches formal probe of wireless industry

Fri, 08/21/2009 - 8:20am
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

The Federal Communications Commission has formally announced plans to launch a wide-ranging probe into the U.S. wireless industry.

The Commission plans to investigate multiple issues in the wireless industry, including consumer protection and competitive business practices. Its plans were outlined in its agenda for an Aug. 27 meeting, which also states that the FCC will consider an inquiry “to understand better the factors that encourage innovation and investment in wireless.”

“We are excited and eager to respond to the Commission’s notice of inquiry with a fact-based story,” says Chris Gutman-McCabe, vice president of regulatory affairs at CTIA. “Whether you look within the United States or compare us to other countries, there are many very healthy indications of competition, including the significant growth and expansion of Cricket, MetroPCS and TracFone.”

AT&T declined to comment on the news, but rival carrier Verizon Wireless reiterated that the wireless sector remained “highly competitive,” further stating that it looked forward to working with the FCC toward a “shared understanding about how our massive network investments are an engine of growth for the U.S. economy.”

The FCC has stepped up its scrutiny of the wireless industry in recent months. The Commission has previously said it plans to look into handset exclusivity agreements between carriers and OEMs.

To that end, the FCC recently sent letters of inquiry to Apple, AT&T and Google as part of an investigation into Apple’s rejection of proposed iPhone app Google Voice. Google Voice is a VoIP application that replicates AT&T’s wireless service, posing a competitive threat to the carrier.

In part, the FCC is questioning whether AT&T had any involvement in the rejection of the Google Voice application. AT&T has denied any involvement in the matter, saying it “doesn’t manage or approve applications” and will “respond accordingly” to the FCC inquiry.

More Broadband Direct 08/21/09:
•  Cox debuts DOCSIS 3.0 in Arizona
•  Cox Brews up a deal with Qualcomm
•  FCC asks for help defining "broadband"
•  FCC launches formal probe of wireless industry
•  Report: Incumbent carriers gain in business Ethernet market
•  Agency files age-discrimination suit against AT&T
•  Oracle: DOJ allows $7.4B Sun deal
•  SCTE bestows continuing ed grants

 

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