AT&T, CTIA balk at antitrust claims

It's not surprising that big telecom carriers such as AT&T aren't particularly happy with all the hubbub about a dearth of competition in the wireless industry. Jim Cicconi, a senior vice president with the telecom giant, said that claims of lack of competition in the wireless industry are not true, according to Reuters. In fact, wireless service has become progressively cheaper, with the average revenue per minute declining more than 89 percent since 1994. In addition, he argued that texting prices have also dropped because of package deals.

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Justice may look into the business practices of U.S. telecom firms such as AT&T and Verizon Communications. In addition, Sen. Herb Kohl, chair of the congressional antitrust panel, wrote a letter to the Justice Department's top antitrust regulator Christine Varney and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski about his concerns regarding text message pricing, roaming disputes and carriers inking deals for exclusive handsets.

Cicconi said that the exclusive handset deals that the large operators ink with manufacturers help the carriers and the OEMs split the marketing costs. In addition, he said that AT&T has complied with FCC regulations, which required it to allow other wireless companies' wireless customers roam on its network.

But Cicconi isn't alone in his claims. CTIA also stepped in to help defend the big wireless carriers. Christopher Guttmann-McCabe, vice president of regulatory affairs at CTIA, wrote a letter to the FCC outlining the contributions of the wireless industry to the economic health of the country. Specifically, Guttmann-McCabe pointed to the wireless industry's investments ($22.8 billion per year in upgrades networks from 2001 through 2008); the fact that U.S. wireless services delivered nearly $100 billion in value-added contributions to the U.S. GDP; and the fact that wireless carriers directly employ more than 268,000 people, a figure that has grown more than 6 percent per year for the past four years.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this letter and report (in PDF format) from the CTIA

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