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May 14, 1998

Separate Statement of Chairman William E. Kennard
Third Annual Commercial Mobile Radio Services Competition Report

This marks the third time the Commission has issued a report on competition within the Commercial Mobile Radio Services. I am extremely proud that much has changed since the first report was issued. Since that time, we have seen significant growth in the number of wireless competitors and an increase in the services available to consumers. Thanks to our wireless auctions, duopoly in wireless telephony is now a thing of the past in many markets, and some markets have five or more operating providers. Now every other person on K Street has a wireless phone. But, more importantly, the benefits of wireless telephony are now finding their way to Main Street, USA in smaller towns across America. There are currently 55 million subscribers of wireless telephone service in the United States, people who now use a technology that was rarely seen only a few years ago. More will follow as buildout continues. As the level of competition increases, we should expect to see lower prices and better service for consumers.

The CMRS Competition Report also shows that the paging industry is extremely competitive. For example, it states that the 25 largest cities in the US have an average of 29 paging licensees, not including resellers, while the 25 smallest SMAs have an average of 12 licensees per area. I believe the industry and this Commission have done a lot to foster this competition.

Finally, the report suggests that some wireless providers are gearing up to compete against wireline providers. We should explore every available opportunity to promote that competition. Our exploration should include using the regulatory authority we now have to hasten the day when consumers begin to view wireless as a real substitute for wireline, and not just a complement. We should also recognize Congress's important role in promoting competition. I believe we should work with Congress to eliminate regulatory obstacles to the development of fixed, as well as mobile, wireless communications services. It would also be helpful for Congress to eliminate obstacles to the rapid deployment of wireless services. One important step would be to clarify that our licenses cannot be tied up in bankruptcy.

This report confirms that the market for wireless services is a dynamic, expanding market that is providing new services to consumers at lower prices. We should be heartened by its findings, and commit to do all that we can to ensure that the positive trends identified in the report continue. If we are successful, we will make a tremendous difference in the lives of the American people.