Try as I might, I can't get that worked up about carrier exclusivity. If a cell phone carrier and a manufacturer want to pair up and offer a handset for a certain period, I'm not going to oppose it purely on principle. Granted, such deals may not be fair to absolutely everyone, but I'd argue that there are much bigger problems with how the U.S. wireless industry operates.
Yet, a few U.S. Senators don't appear to agree. On July 7, a few weeks after a Senate committee grilled national carrier reps on device exclusivity, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) wrote letters to both the federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department's antitrust division asking the agencies to investigate the issue and suggest possible regulatory proposals.
"The practice of large cell phone companies gaining exclusive deals to the most in-demand cell phones is a serious barrier to competition," Kohl wrote. "Consumers are unlikely to obtain cell phone service from companies if they cannot obtain desired handsets."
I'm no carrier lackey, but I find it fascinating that Congress is just now noticing that carrier exclusivity exists. The practice, which is hardly unique to the United States, has been around for a long time. So from where is the sudden interest coming?
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