The FCC’s Internet Access Report Ignores Broadband Market Realities

Earlier this month, the FCC released its Internet Access Services Report: Status as of June 30, 2015. The Report summarizes Internet access statistics in the United States for fixed and—to a lesser extent—mobile technologies. The Report counts almost 242 million mobile connections and almost 100 million fixed connections. Yet much of the Report focuses on mobile connections in isolation. Without factoring in competition from multiple mobile providers, the Report’s picture of the market completely fails to reflect the reality of consumer choices for broadband Internet access services. Indeed, data collected by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) indicates that 20% of online households were wireless-only in 2015.

In today’s broadband marketplace, dynamic intermodal competition is driven by innovation and investment in various broadband technologies—such as mobile, fiber, cable, and DSL. Competition within the market often takes place between providers using the same technology and also between providers using different technological platforms.

The FCC ought to finally acknowledge the substitutability of mobile broadband for fixed broadband. In future rulemakings and reports the agency should incorporate intermodal competitive effects into its analyses. The FCC should no longer ignore the reality and potential of mobile broadband as a substitute for fixed broadband.

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