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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
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Internet: http://www.fcc.gov
TTY: 202/418-2555

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).

JUNE 10, 1999

Meribeth McCarrick at (202) 418-0654


Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted its annual report on the state of competition in the commercial mobile radio services (CMRS) marketplace. The Fourth Report evaluates competition using consumer-oriented categories, regardless of their regulatory classification. The Fourth Report concludes that competition has increased since the release of last year's report, especially within the mobile telephony sector of CMRS. This increased competition has meant lower prices and more choices for American consumers.

Specifics of the Fourth Report:

The Fourth Report focuses on the three established wireless services that are most often associated with CMRS: mobile telephony, paging/messaging, and dispatch. As a fourth topic, this year's report also discusses the growing area of mobile data services. Mobile wireless data services include access to the Internet and corporate intranets, as well as e-mail and vehicle tracking. The Fourth Report observes the following concerning the competitive landscape of these four CMRS product categories:

Mobile Telephony Services: Mobile telephony includes cellular, broadband personal communications and digital Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) Services. Over the past year, mobile telephony has experienced strong growth and competitive development. 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. In addition, new wireless entrants have continued to deploy their networks. There are now at least five mobile telephone providers in each of the 35 largest Basic Trading Areas (BTAs), and at least three mobile telephone providers in 97 of the 100 largest BTAs in the United States. Also, due to growing competition in the marketplace, the average price of mobile telephone service has fallen substantially during the past year.

Paging/Messaging: The report observes that the paging and messaging industry continued to be highly competitive. In 1998, several analysts estimated that the number of pagers in service ranged from 50.5 to 54.2 million units, as compared to 48.2 million in 1997. The report also noted that paging carriers are attempting to enhance their operating results by offering advanced messaging services using narrowband PCS spectrum as well as offering value-added services over traditional one-way pagers.

Traditional Dispatch: According to the Fourth Report, the dispatch industry's subscribership continued to grow. In addition, the FCC completed auctions of 220 MHz and the upper bands of the 800 MHz SMR spectrum, which may provide new competition in the traditional dispatch market.

Mobile Data Services: The Fourth Report observes that the mobile data market remains in a developmental stage, making competitive assessments difficult. However, over the past year, the mobile data sector has seen numerous companies announcing plans to offer a variety of new products and services in the coming months and years.

The Fourth Report will be submitted to Congress as required under Section 332(c)(1)(C) of the Communications Act.

Action by the Commission, June 10, 1999, by Fourth Report (FCC 99-136). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani.

News Media contact: Meribeth McCarrick at 202-418-0654, TTY at (202) 418-7233, or e-mail at mmccarri@fcc.gov

Wireless Telecommunications Bureau contacts: Alexander Byron at (202) 418-0629, TTY at (202) 418-7233, or e-mail at abyron@fcc.gov or Cynthia Schieber at (202) 418-7530, TTY at (202) 418-7233, or e-mail at cschieber@fcc.gov

WT Report No. 99-13