San Francisco (CA) - The US Senate is reportedly preparing to investigate a number of exclusive relationships between carriers and handset manufacturers. Four legislators - including former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry - recently informed the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) of their intention to hold a hearing that will help determine if "exclusivity agreements" effectively limit a consumer's choice of handsets.
"The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will convene a hearing this week to examine issues confronting wireless consumers," the Senators wrote to Acting FFC Chairman Copps. "The subject of exclusivity agreements between wireless carriers and handset manufacturers will be a focal point of this hearing, and the record will help to determine whether legislative action is also necessary. We look forward to your continued attention to this issue, and to a swift examination into the impact of exclusive agreements on the wireless marketplace."
Although the Senators did not specify which companies they intended to review, the hearing is likely to include an examination of the exclusive agreement between Apple and AT&T, in which the latter has been named the sole distributor of the popular iPhone. Similar arrangements between various carriers and manufacturers, such as Sprint and Palm, are expected to be discussed.
The Senators also asked Copps to consider the following for future FFC rulings: