Free State to FCC: Mobile Wireless Broadband is Substitute for Fixed

The Free State Foundation says the FCC got it right the first time-in its 2017 Wireless Competition Report--when it concluded that the mobile wireless broadband market is competitive, but it missed the mark when it did not conclude that mobile wireless broadband had become an effective substitute for fixed.

Related: FCC Does Not Conclude Mobile is Full Fixed Substitute

The more "intermodal competition" there is, the less need for regulation, goes the argument.That came in comments to the FCC--due Thursday (July 26)--on a congressionally mandated report on the competitiveness of commercial mobile services.

Free State, a free market think tank focuses on communications issues, says that in the new report, the FCC should confirm its 2017 finding of effective competition, but also conclude that wireless is now an effective substitute or potential substitute, at least, for wireline.

The FCC in that 2017 report did not consider the issue of wireless as a substitute for fixed, though a 2018 Broadband Progress Report concluded it was not, at least not yet. It found differences between the two technologies, including clear variations in consumer preferences and demands.

Free State points out that Congress asked the FCC to consider intermodal competition in the new report, so the FCC should definitely include an assessment of wireless/wireline substitution, an assessment that was lacking in the 2017 FCC report, it said. "Given the strong evidence of competition, consumer choice, declining prices, and technological dynamism, the Twentieth Report found, correctly, that the commercial mobile services market is effectively competitive. Recent trends certainly support reaffirmation of that finding in the Commission’s forthcoming competition report," Free State said.

The FCC is scheduled to release the new report later this year.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.