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Wheeler to CTIA: Competition Doesn't Assure Openness

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler pulled no punches Tuesday with the wireless industry, which he once lobbied for. He said it needed to step up and bid in the incentive auction, that the FCC would have to think hard about whether or not to apply the net neutrality rules to mobile as well as fixed broadband, that the FCC was still concerned about carriers throttling customers speeds, and said that competition, even when it does exist, may not be enough to assure Internet openness.

He told wireless carriers in a speech to the CTIA convention in Las Vegas Tuesday that they needed to show up to the incentive auction to make sure broadcasters had the financial incentive to participate. He noted the "strong expression of interest" in the auction showed by AT&T, and pointed to Sprint and T-Mobile's "big numbers" when they wanted to bid jointly — had the FCC allowed them to do so, which it is not.

But he said the rest of the industry had been rather silent, and suggested they needed to weigh in, in part to refute suggestions by broadcasters that the reason wireless companies may not bid is that demand for mobile is not as great as the wireless industry suggests.

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