FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler gave a talk at the Super Mobility Week trade show in Las Vegas this morning and dropped a few eye-opening bits of information on us. Most notably, Wheeler and the FCC feel like having four major wireless carriers in the US is a good thing. They don’t want any mergers or purchases to happen because it’s good for consumers. Both the Justice Department and the FCC blocked the recent Sprint purchase of T-Mobile, just like they stopped AT&T’s attempt back in 2012. Wheeler said, “The American consumer has been the beneficiary: New pricing and new services that have been spurred by competition.” He also made is clear that any future mergers would face harsh scrutiny. “We will continue to be skeptical of efforts to achieve scale through the consolidation of major players,” Wheeler stated.
For as much as Wheeler and the FCC have been criticized over their stance on net neutrality, he did say that they are unhappy with the way wireless carriers are managing their networks. He said that the FCC “should maintain the same approach” with telecoms whether they provide landline or wireless services. They are still looking into the problem around net neutrality and wireless companies. We shouldn’t expect any quick decisions, but at least the commission is aware of some of the issues that face consumers. Verizon was specifically called out for the way they are throttling their customers that still have grandfathered unlimited data plans. Wheeler said, “We are very concerned about the possibility that some customers are being singled out for disparate treatment even though they have paid for the capacity that is being throttled.”
What does this mean for us? Probably not a whole lot, at least in the short term. Hopefully, the FCC takes a strong stance against the heavy-handed tactics that Verizon is pulling. One sure thing is that if another company wants to make a bid for T-Mobile, it’s going to have to be a company that isn’t one of the other big three wireless carriers in the US. If Deutsche Telekom hopes to get out of the States, it’s going to have to happen with an offer from someone else.