The Rural Cellular Association is asking the FCC to investigate and adopt rules, if necessary, to stop operators from negotiating exclusive handset deals with manufacturers. The RCA says that this arrangement is unfair, decreases competition and violates the Communications Act. The association says that these types of deals make it impossible for many consumers, particularly those in rural areas, to get some of the best-selling handsets such as AT&T's iPhone and Verizon's LG Voyager.
Small, rural operators have long struggled to get state-of-the-art handset portfolios equal to their Tier 1 counterparts. But the number of exclusive handset deals appears to be growing. The RCA listed more than 50 handsets that are exclusive to the top 5 U.S. operators.
- see this press release.