Basically, what this chart shows is that in the 1990s, cell phone companies bought up other cell phone companies, and Congress and the FCC were happy to go along because of the power of industry lobbying. Once these companies had an effective cartel, their amount of investment dropped. If you didn’t like your cell phone company, you couldn’t really switch, because the other big cell phone company was just as bad. In 1997, the industry was putting 50 cents of every dollar of revenue into investing in more cell phone towers. By 2009, that number dropped 12.5 cents of every dollar. CTIA has made it much harder to find this data since 2004, but it is obscure filing comments at the FCC. Pretty soon, we should expect the public not to even be able to track why our cell phone’s usage is so bad.
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