Yesterday, Senators grilled AT&T on the subject of mobile phone handset exclusivity deals. Today, it was revealed that incoming FCC chief Julius Genachowski plans to take a look at these deals as well, saying he wants to promote competition and choice. Genachowski’s plans were revealed as part of a response to questions from the same committee that held hearings on the subject this week.
Senator John Kerry pleaded with the FCC to act after the Rural Cellular Association, a interest group representing 80 rural carriers, complained about the practice. Genachowski acknowledged RCA’s petition, saying he planned to act on it if confirmed.
The moves to end exclusivity deals would signal a major victory for rural carriers, which are typically shut out of such deals. In addition, it would also likely mean broader availability of top handsets regardless of carrier.
Current acting chairman Michael Copps also has spoke out against the deals, saying “the Commission as the expert 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.”
He is also asking officials within the FCC to start investigating these deals, meaning by the time Genachowski is confirmed an inquiry could already be well underway.