FCC To Probe Exclusive Mobile Deals

On Tuesday, we discussed news that four US Senators would be looking into the exclusivity deals between carriers and cell phone makers. Apparently, they didn’t like what they heard. Reader Ian Lamont writes with an update: “The Federal Communications Commission is planning on launching an investigation into exclusive handset deals between mobile carriers and handset makers. In a speech on Thursday, acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps said the agency ‘should determine whether some of these arrangements adversely restrict consumer choice or harm the development of innovative devices, and it should take appropriate action if it finds harm.’ It’s not hard to imagine who might be targeted — at a separate Senate Committee on Commerce hearing on Thursday, much of the discussion centered on AT&T’s exclusive deal to carry the iPhone. AT&T claimed ‘consumers benefit from exclusive deals in three ways: innovation, lower cost and more choice,’ but carriers and senators from states with large rural populations disagreed, saying that their customers had no choice when it came to the iPhone — it’s not available because AT&Ts network doesn’t reach these areas. One panelist also brought up the Carterfone precedent (PDF), which concerned an ‘electrical acoustic coupling device’ that a man named Tom Carter developed in the 1950s to let field workers make phone calls using a radio transceiver connected to AT&T’s phone network. AT&T, which was then a monopoly, claimed no foreign devices could be connected to its network, but lost when it challenged the Carterfone in court. The result spurred innovation such as the fax machine.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Friday, June 19th, 2009 Uncategorized