Uncommon Wisdom

Aug 21 2009   1:25PM GMT

FCC wireless market inquiries overdue, could affect spending

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

The FCC’s agenda for its August 27 meeting shows a commitment to a broad review of the wireless market, from its role in the national broadband policy to the state of competition and some wireless practices.

Both these activities are being considered for a Notice of Inquiry, which would launch a formal FCC process here. The interest in wireless is overdue. The FCC has far better data on and oversight of the wireline communications services, and yet wireless is becoming the prime mechanism for communications for a large segment of the population.

Operators hate this sort of thing; it raises the risk that the wireless cash cow will be shut off by the FCC in the form of new rules. The problem is that most U.S. operators are profitable because of wireless, and it’s not clear what would happen if the FCC were to curtail revenue/profit growth there through new regulation. The process will take time, and it’s not likely to impact 2010 budget planning, but it may keep wireless infrastructure spending plans tilted to the conservative side.

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