Why is New America’s wireless research so terrible?

The New America Foundation and Slate Magazine is presenting a forum on Friday April 2nd in D.C. entitled: “Why your cell phone is so terrible” featuring:

  • New America Fellow and FreePress Chairman Tim Wu, the leading proponent of imposing monopoly-era Carterfone regulations and net neutrality on the competitive wireless industry, and whose research conclusions and predictions have not been able to withstand scrutiny or the test of time; and
  • New America Director and FreePress alum Sascha Meinrath, a leading proponent of not-for-profit, municipal/community-run wireless networks, which to date have almost universally not succeeded. (Full disclosure: Mr. Meinrath railed against NPR for running my net neutrality op-ed last fall, and I rebutted his broadside.)

Given that the New America Foundation and Slate appear either afraid or unwilling to hear opposing views in their “panel discussion” and have not invited a representative of the wireless industry to rebut the ridiculous premise of this “panel discussion,” let me take this opportunity to systematically rebut this ridiculous and un-supportable assertion: “Why your cell phone is so terrible” here.

If American cell phones and service are indeed “so terrible”…

Why most competitive?

  • Why would former Vice President Gore say in 2009 that the U.S. has “the most competitive wireless industry in the world?” Why would the facts be that Americans enjoy the least concentrated and most competitive wireless market of the 26 OECD countries? (FCC filing)

Why huge growing demand?

  • Why have Americans bought 200 million more wireless connections over the last decade and 10 million more over the last year? (CTIA Stats)

Why huge growing usage?

  • Why would Americans’ usage of cellphones have increased over 1,000% over the last ten years and why would Americans use 2-4 times more wireless minutes than consumers of any other OECD country? (CTIA Stats and FCC Filing)

Why lowest prices?

  • Why would Americans enjoy the lowest price per minute for wireless service in the OECD, 60% lower than the average OECD country? (FCC filing)

Why most application choice/innovation?

  • Why would Americans have access to well over 100,000 mobile applications on multiple growing mobile application platforms?

Why most handset choice?

  • Why would Americans have the choice of 630 different wireless handsets (29 WiFi-enabled) from 33 different manufacturers? (FCC filing)

Why most advanced networks?

  • Why would the U.S. lead the world in 4G WiMax deployment and lead in time-to-market of 4G LTE broadband service and deployment of 700 Mhz DTV spectrum for broadband?

Why highest complaint resolution?

  • Why does the Better Business Bureau report in 2009 that 97.4% of wireless customer complaints were resolved, which is the highest resolution rate of any of the top 10 categories that the Better Business Bureau tracks?
  • Moreover, why would the latest FCC complaint data show wireless generating only 12% of consumer complaints to the FCC? (FCC complaint database)
  • Furthermore, why would consumer complaints to the FCC about wireless industry-specific issues, that the wireless industry can control and resolve, represent only 16 complaints per one million users, or a wireless complaint rate of .0016%? (FCC complaint database)
So what is “so terrible” here about American cellphones or service? Nothing but New America’s hyperbole.

  • The obvious conclusion is that if something is really “terrible” here, it is not the performance of the U.S. wireless industry, but it is the research conclusions of the New America Foundation’s about the U.S. wireless industry.
  • Lastly, the New America Foundation’s research conclusions are obviously not credible because they are not supported by the data, evidence, or competent analysis.

 

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