FCC to Open Inquiry on Ways to Support Wireless Innovation, Investment

Genachowski cites news reports that "raise questions" about mobile market practices

The FCC plans to open an inquiry into ways it can "support and encourage further innovation and investment" in the wireless space, combined with new data collection for its annual report on the status of competition in the mobile wireless market.

That is according to the agenda for its Aug. 27 public meeting, the first with a full complement of five commissioners.

The inquiry comes on the heels of reports that the Justice Department is already looking into complaints against wireless phone companies over exclusive handset deals and following FCC letters to AT&T, Google and Apple earlier this month seeking more information on the applications approved for the iPhone.

The FCC's Wireless Bureau sent the letters after press reports that Apple had not approved a Google Voice application for its iPhone. It also comes as the FCC is considering proceedings on wireless open access and handset exclusivity and the Justice Department is said to be looking at the same issue.

The letters, from Acting Wireless Bureau Chief Schlichting, seek information on what applications from outside parties have been rejected and whether AT&T and Apple consulted before Google's application was declined, among other things. The FCC set a deadline of today (Aug. 21) for answers.

"The Federal Communications Commission has a mission to foster a competitive wireless marketplace, protect and empower consumers, and promote innovation and investment" said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski when the letters were sent out. "Recent news reports raise questions about practices in the mobile marketplace. The Wireless Bureau's inquiry letters to these companies about their practices reflect the Commission's proactive approach to getting the facts and data necessary to make the best policy decisions on behalf of the American people."