AT&T has iPhone, Sprint Nextel has Pre, and Verizon has an exclusive deal to offer BlackBerry Storm; so what does that leave other wireless companies? Nothing, nein, nada.
Congress has been looking into the issue as to whether these giant wireless companies are hurting other smaller companies by shutting them out through exclusive contracts with the phone makers of popular phones.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are also looking into the issue.
So to fend off federal regulation of exclusive handset deals, Verizon Wireless announced last Friday that it would allow small wireless companies to have access to some of the cellphones that they offer exclusively to their customers.
When Verizon now strikes a deal with a manufacturer for exclusive handset access, it will allow the phone to be sold to any carrier after a six-month limit.. However, only those carriers with more than 500,000 customers are “qualified” to sell.
“Exclusivity arrangements promote competition and innovation in device development and design,” Verizon wrote in a letter to Representative Rick Boucher, the Virginia Democrat who is chairman of a major telecommunications subcommittee.
“When we procure exclusive handsets from our vendors, we typically buy hundreds of thousands or even millions of each device. Otherwise manufacturers may be reluctant to make the investments of time, money and production capacity to support a particular device.”
The New York Times reports that much of the political pressure on the issue is coming from rural carriers “that worry that they are being shut out from all the cool phones by one giant carrier or another.”