Complaints Are Really Between Carriers
In other words, CTIA was fully prepared for what seems like an inevitable FCC
inquiry into the practices of wireless carriers. Moments after the FCC
commissioners approved the inquiry, CTIA issued this statement: "The
wireless ecosystem-from carriers, to handset manufacturers, to network
providers, to operating system providers, to application developers-is evolving
before our eyes and this is not the same market that it was even three years
ago. In this industry, innovation is everywhere."
Largent on Sept. 1 again stressed, "We have a great story to tell. We relish the opportunity. This is our sweet spot. We have changed completely over the last six years. We are looking forward to telling our story." Largent did admit that the wireless industry probably had a hand in bringing on the FCC inquiry after years of consumer complaints about the industry's business practices. "The industry was growing so fast, it couldn't keep up with demand. It took time to catch up with the consumer end."
Largent said the current furor over exclusive handset deals like Apple's iPhone arrangement with AT&T, roaming disputes and other complaints about the industry are best solved between the carriers.
Referring to Apple's rejection of the Google Voice application, Largent said, "It's a good thing the FCC asked questions about it, but most of these disputes are solved on a case-by-case basis. The complaints are actually between our carriers. We're a little bit torn on this particular issue because we have small carriers, we have large carriers, and all the carriers have said to us, 'CTIA, you guys just stay out of this fight. This is something that we're going to work out among ourselves.' And they actually have begun to work that out."
Well, sort of. In July Verizon announced that it would limit exclusive handset deals to six months and make the devices available to the nation's smallest carriers, a decision widely derided by consumer and advocacy groups as a hollow gesture with little impact.
As for network neutrality, the wireless carriers remain squarely against the expansion of the FCC's four network neutrality principles to the wireless carriers. Currently, the principles only apply to wire-line carriers.
"Wireless networks are different from the other networks," Largent said. "We have to manage our networks because we're not just sending Internet over our devices and through our networks, we're sending voice calls as well. Network neutrality would threaten our devices."