DOJ calls for FCC to release spectrum, focus on wireless broadband
The Department of Justice said wireless broadband services may be an attractive option for users without high-speed Internet access and could provide more competition to cable, fiber and DSL services. But such options can’t be possible unless federal regulators release more spectrum for mobile broadband services.
The comments (pdf) by the antitrust division of Justice were filed Monday to the Federal Communications Commission, supporting a growing agreement among regulators that the infrastructure of wireless networks at hand today won’t support the explosive growth of wireless smartphone use in the near future.
“Given the potential of wireless services to reach underserved areas and to provide an alternative to wireline broadband providers in other areas, the (FCC) Commission’s primary tool for promoting broadband competition should be freeing up spectrum,” Justice said in its comments.
Specifically, Justice said the FCC should shift “underutilized” spectrum to the hands of wireless carriers. And the agency warned that when giving spectrum, the FCC should take in to consideration how the largest telecom companies could further concentrate their market power through an auction.
The agency also noted that competition among providers of fixed wire and wireless broadband services may be determined by some of the largest telecom providers such as AT&T and Verizon Communications, which operate both services.
“If wireline providers charge more for service packages that involve greater speeds and/or higher usage limits, consumers purchasing these packages may not enjoy the benefits of competition from wireless broadband, or may do so only indirectly to the extent that consumers as a whole display a willingness to substitute slower wireless service for faster wireline service,” the agency said in its filing.
The comments were submitted as part of the FCC’s push to bring affordable and attractive broadband services to all U.S. homes.
In their latest meeting on the development of a national broadband plan, consumer groups criticized the FCC for plans that they feared wouldn’t bring in new competitors to the giant telecom and cable firms that serve most of the nation today.
January 4, 2010; 2:17 PM ET
Categories: Antitrust , Broadband , DOJ , FCC
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