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CTIA Responds to the GAO Report on Wireless Competition

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 9:33am
After the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their report on wireless competition, CTIA-The Wireless Association® President and CEO Steve Largent released the following statement:

In finding that wireless consumers are seeing ‘lower prices and better coverage,’ today’s GAO report confirms what we’ve been saying for a long time - that the U.S. wireless industry is extremely competitive and continues to respond to increasing consumer demand by delivering real benefits for American consumers.

It is significant that the GAO reports that the cost of wireless service in 2009, adjusted for inflation, is about 50 percent less than in 1999. According to the GAO, that ‘illustrates consumers are getting more wireless service for lower costs than ten years ago.’ We agree with the GAO’s assessment that the price of voice, text and data are indicators of competition in today’s U.S. wireless industry.    The report also notes that rising penetration rates and a substantial increase in the number of wireless-only households means that ‘carriers are now mainly competing for existing subscribers.’ With more than 91 percent of Americans being able to choose from four or more carriers, competition for subscribers is fierce.

Consumers have a number of choices in calling plans offered by a variety of carriers, ranging from prepaid to postpaid. If a consumer doesn’t like something about one provider, he or she has many others from which to choose. In fact, about 66 million Americans, or nearly 25 percent of all wireless consumers, took advantage of these competitive choices and changed carriers last year so they could get the newest innovative products and services and competitive rate plans.

Wireless products and services are the future. But as the GAO noted, spectrum is ‘an essential input for wireless services.’ In order for the industry to continue to grow, innovate and deliver the cutting-edge technology consumers demand, all carriers must have access to additional spectrum. For this reason, it is imperative that Congress, the Administration and the Federal Communications Commission follow through on the National Broadband Plan’s recommendation to allocate an additional 500 megahertz of spectrum for commercial use within the next 10 years.

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