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FCC Passes on Finding Mobile Marketplace Competitive

The FCC has released yet another concluding that further government action is needed to spur broadband deployment.

In its 15th annual report on competition in mobile services, the commission once again did not make a determination on whether the marketplace is effectively competitive.

"[I]t would be overly simplistic to apply a binary conclusion or blanket label to this complex and multi-dimensional industry," the report said.

That came despite a finding that three or more providers were available to 97.2% of the population and at least two were available to 99.2%. Four or more were available to 94.3% of the country.

When it came to total square miles of coverage, the story was different and illustrated the FCC's concern with reaching rural areas. While 99.2% of the population had two or more carriers, that represented only 63.6% of the total U.S. square mileage.

The FCC also found that 91.9% of the population had two or more providers of wireless broadband, but that covered only 59.4% of the total U.S. square mileage.

Verizon commended the FCC for highlighting some of the industry positives, but also suggested it was missing the boat when it came to passing on ruling the marketplace competitive.

"The U.S. has the most innovative, dynamically competitive wireless market in the world," Verizon SVP Kathleen Grillo said. "This fast-evolving marketplace is very different from the one that existed eight years ago; consumers view it and participate in it differently; so should policymakers."

Commissioner Robert McDowell, who only concurred in the report, also said he did not see any reason why the FCC could not make a competitive call on the mobile marketplace.

"I vote to concur because we have not identified new or particularly revealing information that would prevent us from opining as to 'whether or not there is effective competition,' as the statute requires," McDowell said.

The FCC recently found that wired broadband was not being rolled out in a sufficiently timely manner and would need more help from the government.