FCC Calls For More And Less Competition


CHICAGO — FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is a busy man. He’s got policies and
initiatives to lead and develop that will change the competitive landscape
for carriers in the U.S.


He’s also expecting the birth of a child, so instead of flying here for the NXTcomm conference, he joined attendees via a
live video link. Martin’s FCC is also on the verge of giving birth to a new, more competitive environment for video, broadband and wireless connectivity
across the U.S.


“I think our policies have been a success,” Martin said. “You’re seeing
broadband adoption across all segments of the market.”


Martin noted that the commission has taken steps to facilitate more video competition across the U.S. Martin
also highlighted the FCC’s role in the upcoming wireless auction that
will provide more opportunities for wireless carriers and customers.


There is still more that the FCC can do, though. Ensuring that rural areas are included in the mix is also a critical area
for the FCC and one that Martin said the FCC is committed to.


But competition is critical. “We need to make sure we’re doing all we can to facilitate video
competition. It’s also key to broadband deployment,” Martin said. “The local
franchising process might have been inhibiting companies from making
investments. We need to have additional competition on the video side.”


According to Martin, cable rates have doubled in the U.S. in recent years.
That stands in stark contrast with every other communications sector where
local telephone and wireless rates are all on the way down. Competition will
benefit consumers by lowering costs.


He also addressed competition and network neutrality.


“We need to have a regulatory level playing field that allows service
providers to compete and drive innovation and lower prices for consumers,”
Martin said. “Our first goal is to remove regulations that inhibit
competition.”


At the same time Martin noted that the FCC has a role to ensure that
consumers are able to continue to get emergency services like 911. “As all these new technologies roll we’ll make sure consumers don’t lose access to the public safety that they expect,” Martin said.


Universal service is also an important concept that the FCC will stick with, because it is important, said Martin, to make sure everyone is connected.


Competition isn’t always a good thing when it comes to universal service
though. Martin noted that today we have voice competition among providers in
areas where it’s not economic for even one provider to offer service.


“We need to recognize that we can’t have universal service subsidies to
multiple providers in rural areas,” Martin said. “We shouldn’t be
subsidizing multiple voice competitors, and instead we should subsidize
broadband in rural areas.”

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