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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
PRESS STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN WILLIAM E. KENNARD
Today we highlight one of the great success stories of competition - the wireless telecommunications industry, where choice is up and prices are down.
Wireless phone users are riding the wave of a tremendous buyers' market brought about by thriving competition in the wireless telecom field. Consumers have more choices than ever at prices that have declined as much as 40 percent in the last three years. It's amazing that an industry that didn't exist a decade ago now provides 134,758 jobs, according to an industry survey.
Wireless is working like it should work - governed by the marketplace and not by regulation - and it is thriving. Common sense regulation by the FCC and Congress have helped foster the competitive nature of this industry. In a competitive marketplace, excessive regulation can only handcuff the invisible hand, and wireless is a case study of achieving success through market forces instead of government.
All of the wireless items adopted today illustrate the steps the FCC is taking to help secure the wireless industry's role as a leader in communications technology. We want to ensure that the competitive wireless industry finds its rightful place at the forefront of communications in the next millennium.
CMRS Competition Report: The signs of growing competition are visible nearly everywhere. For example, the mobile telephone industry is well on its way towards completing its transformation from a duopoly to a competitive marketplace. Where there were once only two providers, there are now communities with five, six, and even seven carriers trying to sell their services. As a result, prices are falling, making mobile telephone services available to more people as well, and bringing those services ever closer to being a competitive alternative to wireline telephone services. In the 12 months ending December 1998, the mobile telephony sector generated over $32 billion in revenues, increased subscribership from 55 million to 68 million, and increased national penetration from 20 to 25 percent.
Calling Party Pays: Because our focus today is on matters that affect and contribute to the growth of the wireless services, it is appropriate that we consider ways in which our regulation of wireless providers can help to create competition among wireless providers, as well as increase the choices available for wireless consumers. There are two mainr reasons for implementing CPP. First, it has the potential to make wireless services available to a whole new category of consumers: families on tight budgets who cannot afford mobile phones today, people who would otherwise turn off their phones to avoid having to pay for incoming calls, and students in college. Second, it will help hasten the day when our wireless phone might very well be our only phone, when wireless is a real substitute for wireline. With proper notification, CPP can potentially provide tremendous benefits to American consumers.
Competitive Networks: If there is one thing we can all agree on, it is this: the rate at which local competition has been established in this country has been too slow.
Because facilities-based competition holds the greatest promise of surmounting obstacles to local competition posed by incumbents' control of bottleneck facilities, we must take aggressive action to promote this competition. This means that, in addition to promoting local competition resale and the leasing of unbundled network elements, we must also promote the development of facilities-based approaches, as also envisioned by Congress. It is especially appropriate that we focus attention on wireless solutions, since they present special promise for overcoming local bottlenecks.
We also adopted additional items today that promote the competitive nature of wireless. In our Refarming/Trunking item, we adopted rules that encourage more effective and efficient use of the spectrum by private wireless users. We also adopted rules on our Universal Licensing System (ULS). ULS embodies our philosophy of making our operations simpler, faster, and more accessible to applicants, licensees, and the public. Today, we furthered those goals by making our ULS database accessible to the public via the Internet.
At the FCC, we are hard at work to improve the ability of wireless providers to compete on equal footing with wireline providers. Vigorous competition from the wireless industry will help reduce consumer prices and encourage innovation. Our already has spawned a host of new services we couldn't have imagined even a decade ago.