September 26, 2017
By: Scott Bergmann
It’s a great time to be a mobile subscriber. America’s wireless carriers are locked in a fierce competitive battle to win consumers each and every day and this competition is resulting in: - lower prices, - unlimited data, - new devices, - faster speeds, - and free add-ons such as Netflix, HBO, or Tidal subscriptions.
Today, the FCC recognized this fact—declaring the wireless industry competitive in the agency’s annual Mobile Wireless Competition Report. In reaching this verdict, the FCC examined the provision of mobile wireless service, finding that nearly 97 percent of Americans can choose from between three or more 4G providers.
Across the country, Americans now have more choice—today, consumers can choose between three or more 4G providers in nearly 250,000 more square miles in the U.S. compared to a year ago. And in the last 18 months, the percent of rural Americans who can choose between three or more 4G providers grew to more than 84 percent—a nearly 30 percent increase in that period.
Here are a few more highlights from the report:
Over the past seven years, the wireless industry invested $200 billion in its networks to improve speeds, coverage, and quality, investments that benefit customers everywhere. Those investments yield tangible benefits: wireless consumers experience average 4G download speeds that are more than 60 percent faster today compared to 2014.
Carriers also invested in advertising, spending over $9.3 billion last year alone to convince consumers to change—or stay with—their provider.
That’s because consumers enticed by a great offer can easily switch. Just like that, the very same day—with no hassle and often at no cost. Many carriers are willing to cover any costs, and even pay consumers for the opportunity to serve as their wireless provider.
For all of this, Americans are paying less. The cost for mobile data has dropped from $1.37 per MB a decade ago to less than half a penny in 2016. As of April, wireless service prices had dropped 12.9 percent year-over-year—the largest decline in 16 years and so significant that it drove the average price for core consumer goods down across the economy for the first time since the turn of the decade. And wireless prices continue to fall.
No wonder use of wireless data grew 42 percent in the last year, and 238 percent over the last two years, to more than 13.7 trillion MBs.
This consumer engagement is the result of an industry that thrives on competition in a powerful way.
If you look at how competition is defined in other industries, that quickly becomes apparent. In the cable/satellite television industry, for instance, Congress said a key threshold for competition is at least two providers offering service to at least 50 percent of households in a region. With nearly 97 percent of Americans able to choose between three or more 4G providers, wireless easily passes that threshold.
And looking to the future, wireless companies are applying that same entrepreneurial drive to deploy next-generation 5G networks.
Policymakers can help ensure further wireless deployment, including in rural and remote parts of the country by opening up more spectrum and modernizing wireless infrastructure rules at all levels of government.
With these policies in place, Accenture projects that the wireless industry will invest $275 billion to deploy 5G across America—transforming industries, creating 3 million jobs, and growing the economy by $500 billion.
We’re grateful the FCC recognized the unique competitive nature of the wireless industry. We compete because we’re committed to being the best and committed to ensuring all Americans enjoy the very best wireless experience.