Groups urge FCC nominees to address wireless device restrictions

A coalition of public-interest groups sent a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee in anticipation of hearings for two FCC nominees, urging that the committee address a variety of issues including consumers' ability to match whatever wireless device they wish with their wireless service.

The committee will hold a hearing tomorrow to consider the nomination of Julius Genachowski to be the FCC's chairman, and for Robert McDowell for one of the two Republican seats on the five-member commission.

The groups, including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Prometheus Radio Project, the United Church of Christ Office of Communication Inc., the Media Access Project, Public Knowledge and the Center for Rural Strategies, split their concerns into five areas: broadband, localism, diversity, open networks and wireless. On the wireless side of things, the groups seem to be taking aim phone exclusivity deals, like the one AT&T Mobility has for Apple's iPhone.

"Right now wireless providers restrict consumers' ability to use the device of their choice with wireless service," the groups wrote. "Shouldn't wireless customers have the same rights as users of wired services have had since 1968? Do you believe that wireless providers are right in doing this?"

The wireless industry has defended exclusivity deals as a regular part of doing business, noting that they are usually not permanent.

For more:
- see this Multichannel News article
- see this GigaOM post

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Genachowski's nomination delayed until after Memorial Day
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