The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Briefing.
Universal Service Monitoring Report
The FCC released the 2015 Universal Service Monitoring Report which is designed to monitor the impact of various universal service support mechanisms and the method used to finance them. The Report has seven sections: Section 1 provides an update on industry revenues, universal service program funding requirements, and contribution factors; Sections 2 through 5 provide the latest data on the low-income, high-cost, schools and libraries, and rural health care support mechanisms; Section 6 presents recent Census data on voice telephony subscribership, data on telephone penetration by income by state and data on residential Internet subscribership; Section 7 includes updated Consumer Price Index data. An Appendix provides additional information regarding the high-cost program.
Among the changes this year:
- Table 6.10 now shows high-speed internet penetration by household instead of individual.
- A new Table 6.12 shows telephone and internet subscribership in low income households.
- Figures 4 and 5 showing accepted offers of Connect America Phase II model-based support by state and carrier and Figures 15 and 17 showing fixed connection deployment and fixed connections for ILECs of at least 10 Mbps downstream and 768 kbps upstream were added to the high-cost appendix.
- Figure 6 presents information regarding the authorizations of rural broadband experiment support.
Wireless Competition Report
The FCC also released its Annual Report Of Competitive Market Conditions For Commercial Mobile Wireless Services. The Report analyzes competition across the entire mobile wireless marketplace, including key market segments (e.g., spectrum and infrastructure) and all mobile wireless services (voice, messaging, and broadband). Once again, the Report does not reach an overall conclusion or formal finding regarding whether or not the CMRS marketplace was effectively competitive. Instead, it provides an analysis and description of the CMRS industry’s competitive metrics and trends. The report says that “[g]iven the complexity of the various inter-related segments and services within the mobile wireless ecosystem, any single conclusion regarding the effectiveness of competition would be incomplete and possibly misleading in light of the complexities we observe.”
First, the Report provides an analysis of the overall competitive dynamics of the industry, describing the various operating entities and their relative positions using indices such as market share, subscribership, and various financial indicators. Next, it presents an overview of industry trends and developments in the mobile marketplace that have taken place since the last report. The Report the analyzes: (1) key inputs necessary for provision of mobile service, such as spectrum and network infrastructure; (2) developments in the ways service providers compete for and attract subscribers through pricing innovations, such as the decreased reliance on traditional handset subsidies and term contracts; (3) competitive rivalry in non-price factors, such as the coverage, service quality, and speed of providers’ service offerings; and (4) developments in the downstream mobile wireless ecosystem as well as issues such as consumer access to information and intermodal developments.
Both Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly issued separate statements in response to the Report. Commissioner Pai’s statement focused on the FCC’s “ostrich-like approach” to competition in the wireless market, saying: “[t]he bottom line: this FCC will never find that there is effective competition in the wireless market, regardless of what the facts show. That’s because doing so would undermine the agency’s goal of expanding its authority to manipulate the wireless market—a goal it can’t accomplish if it deems that market healthy.” Commissioner O’Rielly’s statement focused on the process by which the Report was released (on delegated authority and not voted on by the Commissioners) and said that: “[i]t amazes me that with more than 90 percent of Americans having a choice of four or more wireless providers that we are incapable of concluding, as directed by Congress, whether this industry is competitive.”