FCC Adopts New Rules for Phone Portability & Wireless Applications Competition

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, released the following statement regarding today’s vote by the Federal Communications Commission establishing rules for an upcoming spectrum auction for licenses to valuable frequencies in the 700 MHz band:

“Millions of consumers today feel trapped by wireless industry practices that thwart their ability to take their phones with them when they switch to a new service provider. Right now, wireless offers a ‘Hotel California’ service, where you can check out anytime you like, you just can’t ever leave with your new $500 phone or PDA.

“Today’s historic vote by the FCC begins to untangle the stranglehold wireless companies have exerted over a consumer’s ability to use any device and application chosen by the consumer , not the service provider. I commend Chairman Martin, as well as Commissioners Copps, Adelstein and Tate, for this consumer-friendly and innovation-fostering decision.

“My hope is that when these frequencies come to market after the auction, they will spur innovation so that consumers will be able to purchase the 21st Century equivalent of Dick Tracy 's two-way wrist radios of comic book fame: broadband-savvy devices capable of full motion video, enhanced applications, and other information services. Entrepreneurs will no longer be forced to seek permission from wireless companies to innovate. That’s good for jobs, for investment, for innovation, and for our economy.

“In addition, today’s FCC decision will make progress toward achieving a nationwide, broadband-capable network for first responders. Congress reserved these valuable frequencies for public safety use several years ago and today’s action keeps the promise of enhancing communications for public safety and homeland security purposes.

“Finally, I had hoped that in today’s decision the Commission would have required that one of the blocks of frequencies to be auctioned would obligate the winning bidder to offer broadband wireless service exclusively on a wholesale basis. Such action would have gone a long way toward injecting even greater broadband competition, consumer choice, and innovation into the marketplace. I urge the Commission to seek additional opportunities for achieving this goal in the near term.

“Again, I applaud FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, Commissioner Michael Copps, Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein and Commissioner Deborah Tate for this important step forward.”


July 31, 2007

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