A Publication of WTVP

Congress, state officials and regulators should keep their focus on job creation and drop the notion that the wireless industry needs more government regulation.

Despite the lingering dark clouds of these economic times, consumers in Illinois and throughout the nation are finding a silver lining from marketplace competition and technical advances in the nation’s wireless industry. This is one area of the economy where consumers are excited about products and know they are receiving great value. Constant innovation, ever-increasing choices and competitive prices let consumers continue to win in the wireless marketplace.

Today’s wireless customers are using more minutes at a lower cost than ever before. In fact, wireless subscribers are using 10 times the number of minutes they did just nine years ago, while cost per minute has fallen 40 percent in the last six years, and 89 percent since 1994. That demonstrates real value.

This industry is thriving because consumer demand is driving the market and there is real competition for their business. More than 95 percent of the U.S. population lives in an area with at least three competing wireless companies, and more than half of the population has at least five such choices.

Now, smartphones allow consumers to go online, watch videos, receive breaking news alerts and guide them to their destinations through maps and GPS technology. Innovators are continuously developing new applications for smartphones, enabling users to find restaurants, update Facebook statuses, listen to the radio or watch movies all on their handsets.

The wireless industry calculates that at least 33 companies manufacture more than 630 different handsets and wireless devices for the U.S. market. In a matter of months, 40,000 applications were introduced for a new generation of wireless devices and an estimated 20,000 more may be available before year-end. The pace of progress in the wireless industry has been phenomenal.

Surveys show consumers are increasingly and overwhelmingly pleased with their wireless service. In the first quarter of 2009, the American Customer Satisfaction Index found that a record high of 68 percent of users are satisfied with their wireless phone service.

Consumer Reports found a significant increase in consumer satisfaction from 2007 to 2008 due to consumer-centric policies adopted by wireless companies, like improving connectivity, increasing call quality and prorating early-termination fees. All of these changes were implemented without regulatory or legislative action.

So with numerous choices, lower price points, burgeoning innovation and greater consumer satisfaction, it’s clear that recent calls for wireless regulation are unnecessary. In spite of a weakened economy, the market has flourished and consumers have benefited without a need for government intervention.

Private enterprise continues to invest billions of dollars to create networks that are faster and offer better quality of service. They are continuously working to provide consumers with more innovation, more choices and better value. Clearly, wireless consumers are benefitting as a result of free-market competition.

Elected officials and government regulators should let go of any thoughts of re-regulating and complicating the business. The public would be better served by efforts that continue to promote this most successful environment that has created jobs and economic opportunities, while providing consumers with numerous choices, great services and real value. iBi