FCC: Mobile Wireless Marketplace Still Not Competitive

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The FCC has released its Nineteenth Mobile Wireless Competition Report, and for the fifth consecutive time, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) has stopped short of concluding that the mobile marketplace as a whole is effectively competitive.  Starting with the Fifteenth Mobile Wireless Competition Report, the FCC’s final report has been released by the WTB alone and was not voted on or approved by the FCC’s Commissioners.  While the Eighteenth Report covered the latter half of 2014 and the first half of 2015, the Nineteenth Report only includes data from the second half of 2015.  Just as in the recent past, the WTB “does not reach an overall conclusion or formal finding regarding whether or not the CMRS marketplace was effectively competitive, but provides an analysis and description of the CMRS industry’s competitive metrics and trends.”  For the third consecutive report, the WTB is also trying to create a more “data-centric” product “combining a concise analysis with a substantial use of tables and charts in accessible data formats.”  Among the findings in the Nineteenth Report are the following:  (1) the Big Four nationwide carriers – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon – serve 391 million connected devices, up from 366 million six months earlier; (2) the Big Four nationwide carriers account for 98% of the industry’s operating revenue, the regional carriers of NTELOS and US Cellular account for 2.0% of the industry’s operating revenue, and the operating revenues of small and rural carriers are statistically insignificant; (3) for the tenth straight report, the HHI remains above 2,500, signifying that the industry is highly concentrated; and (4) in 2015, the annual service revenues of facilities-based carriers exceeded $195 billion while those of MVNOs were over $25 billion.

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