Verizon challenges handset exclusivity claims

Verizon Wireless is taking issue with comments by Cellular South to Congress over the alleged damage caused by exclusive handset arrangements, claiming that the rural carrier is misrepresenting its position on the issue. The tussle between the wireless behemoth and the small carrier comes as a Senate subcommittee is looking into whether exclusivity deals between carriers and handset makers harm consumers.

Verizon is alleging that Cellular South did not present all of the facts surrounding its position on the issue in testimony on May 7 before the House Telecommunications Subcommittee, according to a Telephony article. At that hearing, Cellular South said that large carriers were unfairly locking up handsets in exclusivity deals.

Verizon said Cellular South failed to mention that Verizon had recently offered to reduce the duration of its handset exclusivity contracts with LG and Samsung in a bid to help rural wireless carriers get the phones faster. Verizon made the the offer to the Associated Carrier Group (ACG), which represents 25 CDMA carriers that have a combined 2.6 million subscribers. The largest carrier in the group is Cellular South.

In March, Cellular South wrote in a memo to ACG members that Verizon's policy was a positive step that would give ACG members and wireless customers more choice. A Cellular South spokeswoman could not be reached for comment at deadline. 

The Senate Commerce Committee's subcommittee on communications, technology and the Internet is to hold a hearing today to look into the issue. Earlier this week, four senators from the subcommittee asked the FCC to probe deeper into the matter.

For more
- see this Telephony article

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