Senators to Examine Exclusive Carrier Deals

Four US Senators have written to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to urge Commissioner Michael Copps to review the exclusive arrangements between wireless carriers and cell phone manufacturers.

Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, along with Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) penned the letter before a Commerce Committee hearing this week that will focus on current issues facing wireless customers.

Several commercial wireless carriers hold exclusive arrangements with handset manufactures with respect to which devices are available through their networks for consumers. Recent notable examples include the Palm Pre on Sprint and the iPhone on AT&T.

"We ask that you examine this issue carefully and act expeditiously should you find that exclusivity agreements unfairly restrict consumer choice or adversely impact competition in the commercial wireless marketplace," the senators wrote.

The full text of the letter can be read here.

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Exclusive agreements

philpalm @ 6/16/2009 11:24:52 AM # Q
Quote from link:
"Whether exclusivity agreements place limitations on a consumer's ability to take full advantage of handset technologies, such as the ability to send multimedia messages or the ability to "tether" a device to a computer for internet use;"

Well some exclusive agreements help telecoms to fund these agreements. It is not transparent how much advantage (financial returns) telecoms get from such agreements

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We're from the Govt. We're here to help U!

LiveFaith @ 6/16/2009 2:02:16 PM # Q
Oh boy! Help is on the way. The same group of "stellar statesmen" who allowed me (a taxpayer) to sink my money into failing financial institutions (read international bankers pockets), and failing auto companies (read big 3), are going to get to the bottom of all this and bring us help.
I can't contain my enthusiasm for the above the table justice and fairness that is certain to follow. :-/
Pat Horne
RE: We're from the Govt. We're here to help U!
vetdoctor @ 6/16/2009 5:31:27 PM # M Q
This is just the warmup. Next they plan to force Toyota and Nissan to sell Cryslers...its only fair.
RE: We're from the Govt. We're here to help U!
Gekko @ 6/16/2009 8:50:21 PM # Q

someone's been watching a little too much o'reilly factor and glenn beck.
RE: We're from the Govt. We're here to help U!
abosco @ 6/17/2009 5:30:25 AM # M Q
Ford has not received any government bailout money.
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I hope they open up the market...

alanh @ 6/16/2009 3:06:29 PM # Q
I hope they make it illegal to lock phones to a carrier and allow consumers to activate any compatible phone on a network. The tying of phones to service contracts hurts all of us by stifling innovation by the phone manufacturers.


RE: I hope they open up the market...
hkklife @ 6/16/2009 8:26:30 PM # Q
AMEN!! It'll never happen, though.

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->?

RE: I hope they open up the market...
anika200 @ 6/17/2009 11:17:01 AM # Q
But if we could just pick up our phone and switch to another network then people would all swarm to the best couple of companies and then how could we offer horrible service and features for a huge sum of money.

(Many years Later), Holy crap there are only a couple of Cell carriers and they are sucking the life and money out of everyone.

Repeat and Rinse

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and next...

jnuneznj @ 6/20/2009 10:40:02 AM # Q
We can get HBO to let Showtime air all of it's shows. And why can I get Mario on my X360.

How about this serious issue...

Why is fios not widely available even though the senate provided money for this in the 90's.

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Wollombi @ 6/26/2009 11:25:35 AM # Q
I don't have much faith in government as a solution to economic/business issues.

That said, the wireless carriers are acting a awful lot like the old AT&T ("Ma Bell"), a company that strictly limited what devices could be used on their lines...and you could only buy those devices from, you guessed it, AT&T. It was one of the major reasons they lost the antitrust suit.

Generally speaking, I believe companies should be allowed to do business as they choose, so long as the anticompetitive practices are kept to a minimum. This is one point that continues to irritate me, though. I should be able to buy the device that best suits my needs, and use it on the network/service that best suits my needs. That is a free market (you know, the system that once made the U.S. the greatest/biggest economy in the world). Why should a network provider tell me what I can and can't use on my device? That would be like Comcast saying I can only use Windows, but not Linux or Mac (note: Comcast is just an example, I know they are flawed as well). If I buy a computer, I'm damned well going to run whatever OS I want that can run on it. The issues with the wireless carriers aren't technical, they just want to control whatever connects to their service, which is outside a reasonable framework, IMHO. After all, ISP's, a similar paradigm (service provider) provide the service, but can't limit what features of your computer you are allowed to utilize. Phone companies don't charge extra if you use a dial-up modem for internet access, etc. etc. Why do the wireless carriers get special treatment here? Stop this madness, and let the market blow us away with innovative and useful devices. These practices have put the U.S., the inventor of many technologies, way behind the rest of the world as far as innovations on said technologies, all for the sake of a few extra bucks that could easily be made up by offering more innovative services.

But that would require lazy execs to actually work instead of wait for the inevitable govt. bailout (read: corporate welfare), wouldn't it?

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.

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