U.S. senators ask FCC to examine exclusive cell phone deals

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A group of U.S. senators this week asked the Federal Communications Commission to step in and examine whether exclusive relationships between wireless carriers and handset makers are in the best interest of customers.



Four members of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet fired off a letter to FCC chairman Michael Copps on Monday, expressing their growing concern over the deals, like the one in place between Apple and AT&T regarding the iPhone.



Their request actually stems from a petition filed last month by the Rural Cellular Association, a group of smaller tier II and tier III wireless carriers that provide service to parts of the U.S. where tier I brands like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile do not.



They argue that their inability to provide their customers with some of the most popular mobile handsets and smartphones makes it difficult for them to compete, especially in markets where their coverage does overlap with some of the big tier I operators.



In their letter to the FCC, the senators asked the commission to examine five specific issues carefully and act expeditiously should they find that exclusivity agreements unfairly restrict consumer choice or adversely impact competition in the commercial wireless marketplace.



Specifically, they request a determination on whether exclusivity agreements are becoming increasingly prevalent between dominant wireless carriers and handset manufacturers, and whether these agreements are restricting consumer choice, particularly for those living in rural America.



The senators also asked the commission to decide whether the agreements place limitations on a consumer?s ability to take full advantage of handset technologies, such as the ability to send multimedia messages (MMS) or the ability to "tether" a device to a computer for internet use.



This particular requests comes amid word that AT&T, despite the hefty service and data fees it charges iPhone customers, won't be able to provide iPhone 3G S customers with those two services from the onset of their new wireless contracts.



Among the other topics up for debate are whether the ability for a dominant carrier to reach an exclusive agreement with a handset manufacturer is inhibiting the ability of smaller, more regional carriers to compete; and whether exclusivity agreements play a role in encouraging or discouraging innovation within the handset marketplace.



The letter -- signed by senators John Kerry (Dem. from Mass.), Roger Wicker (Rep. from Miss.), Amy Klobuchar (Dem. from Minn) and Byron Dorgan (Dem. from N.D.) -- precedes a hearing by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on the matter set for Wednesday to help determine whether legislative action is necessary.
«13456

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 103
    mystigomystigo Posts: 140member
    If AT&T can get away with illegally wiretapping its customers, I don't think it will have any problem with this one.
  • Reply 2 of 103
    ivan.rnn01ivan.rnn01 Posts: 1,822member
    Yes! Yes!

    Please slap some Sunnyvale- and Overland Park-based companies with something terrible!
  • Reply 3 of 103
    Life is not always fair.



    BTW you do have a choice.



    Where to live

    Where to work



    If picking your cell phone is so important, and you can't the phone you want....move!



    People! Think they are entitled to EVERYHTING!!!
  • Reply 4 of 103
    tazinlwfltazinlwfl Posts: 117member
    Quote:

    and whether exclusivity agreements play a role in encouraging or discouraging innovation within the handset marketplace.



    Encourage, duh!

    If they discouraged, do you really think they'd be Storms and Pre's, etc, in exclusive deals with their respective carriers? There wouldn't be competing App Stores (and I use that term "competing" loosely) if Apple's discouraged other carriers/manufacturers from innovation.



    Exclusivity makes other carriers push for similar phones, and that makes manufacturers produce better phones in hopes of being the "competition"



    when it comes to the Tier II companies, I'm sorry. Just wait, someone will buy you up, and you'll be nicely integrated with the same exclusive handsets... :-/
  • Reply 5 of 103
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mystigo View Post


    If AT&T can get away with illegally wiretapping its customers, I don't think it will have any problem with this one.



    Look at the fall of rome...



    if the people have bread and circuses, the few eleits are free to do whatever they like as no one pays attention. The iphone is showing clearly how the wireless companies are screwing everyone over, this is just a token gesture, they are going to say "shame on you, do not make it hard for folks to buy flashy trinkets to distract the public form our corruption"



    OK, so I am a little cynical for the age of 24, I am fine with that...
  • Reply 6 of 103
    roos24roos24 Posts: 170member
    Even though the request sounds fair, are those smaller providers riding piggy back on the main networks that the big ones spent billions on to put in place during the last decade, or did they install their own towers etc.?
  • Reply 7 of 103
    a_greera_greer Posts: 4,594member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Roos24 View Post


    Even though the request sounds fair, are those smaller providers riding piggy back on the main networks that the big ones spent billions on to put in place during the last decade, or did they install their own towers etc.?



    Some of those are fully owned subsidiaries of the network ops they use, they just market to the poor and high school kids with a little allowance money and unwillingness of parents to buy a contract cell.



    Others are actually their own network, at one point there were dozens of carriers, the merge down to 4 is a really new trend, in the last 5 years or so. There still are a few that run their own networks, they also have 2 way roaming agreements with a big carrier
  • Reply 8 of 103
    neilmneilm Posts: 903member
    Faux News reports that in a related development, GM is filing suit in Federal court to strike down Toyota's exclusive distribution agreement with its own dealers. "This exclusivity is clearly anti-competitive in nature," said a GM spokesperson familiar with the matter. "We view the ability to sell Toyotas at GM dealers as an essential step toward our corporate survival."
  • Reply 9 of 103
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    Take a look at this article why RIM is the king of market share in the US.



    Quote:

    International Data Corp's Mobile Phone Tracker data puts Research In Motion at more than half of the smartphone marketshare for the first quarter of 2009: that 55.3 percent share compared to a 19.5 percent share for Apple's iPhones. That's a dramatic surge from two quarters earlier, when BlackBerry devices hung on to 40.4 percent and Apple had 30.1 percent, according to IDC.



    Looks like iPhone is losing market share, because it's a consumer oriented device most likely. In tough times people buy the device that's going to make them money, and in business that's the serious looking Blackberry.



    Also another important thing:



    Quote:

    The key to BlackBerry dominance -- a recent survey by Yankee Group revealed that of 41 percent of Americans who planned to buy a smartphone for their next phone, half were planning on a BlackBerry -- is versatility. Sure, BlackBerry phones have reliable features and an entire app store, BlackBerry App World. But where iPhones and other flashy smartphones are often tethered to one wireless carrier in the United States -- iPhone is exclusively AT&T, for example -- all of the major carriers support at least one BlackBerry.



    Pisses me off, Apple had a second chance to rule a market and they screw it up by ignoring the business market and catering only to consumers.





    http://www.crn.com/retail/218000045;...PCKH0CJUNN2JVN
  • Reply 10 of 103
    bigmc6000bigmc6000 Posts: 767member
    Rather than investigate that how about they just give us each a check in the mail for $200 so we can go buy a shiny new phone - Bailout for all!



    Oh wait, what's that you say? It's already OUR money? [email protected]
  • Reply 11 of 103
    freenyfreeny Posts: 128member
    Completely left out of this article, and the even more important note brought up by this commity, was the fact of text message gouging. The want an enquirery on why service providers charge 20 cents per text when the service only costs them 1/3 of 1 cent to provide it...



    Out effin' ragious!
  • Reply 12 of 103
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Break up this Apple /AT&T duopoly!
  • Reply 13 of 103
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,226member
    What a waste of time. ATT decided to go along with Apple's requests. Verizon did not (wanting as it did, greater control, apparently). And, on top of that, it's GSM versus CDMA.



    There should simply be a "fully unlocked" option at full price (a la countries such as France), and this issue would be moot.
  • Reply 14 of 103
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,226member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    Break up this Apple /AT&T duopoly!



    You need to learn some basic economic definitions, before spouting off words like "duopoly."
  • Reply 15 of 103
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post


    Looks like iPhone is losing market share, because it's a consumer oriented device most likely. In tough times people buy the device that's going to make them money, and in business that's the serious looking Blackberry.



    Or maybe it's because people are waiting for the new iphone to launch?



    My prediction: iPhone will be over 50% for the third quarter, then back to upper 40% for the fourth, then down to 30ish% for the remaining quarters while people wait for the next new iphone.
  • Reply 16 of 103
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mystigo View Post


    If AT&T can get away with illegally wiretapping its customers, I don't think it will have any problem with this one.



    First thing I thought of. John Kerry can go stick his Herman Munster head back in the sand. If AT&T sent him a check for a $100, he'd probably shut up. He is after all the king of rolling over for others, for almost no reason.



    Where is the investigation into AT&T's data leaking to the US government? Oh, right, Kerry is part of an administration now, which benefits directly from all of that info collected under Bush.



    But they need to stop AT&T having the iPhone because its just not fair! No fair no fair!



    Ever notice that the senate will only deal with issues that affect the whiny, cry-baby, immature citizens of this country? Not REAL issues?
  • Reply 17 of 103
    We should be able to use any cell phone with any network.

    But Verizon was a casualty of there greed.

    They wanted more as always and came up short.

    now they wanna cry foul. As for sprint, screw them.
  • Reply 18 of 103
    bigmc6000bigmc6000 Posts: 767member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by freeny View Post


    Completely left out of this article, and the even more important note brought up by this commity, was the fact of text message gouging. The want an enquirery on why service providers charge 20 cents per text when the service only costs them 1/3 of 1 cent to provide it...



    Out effin' ragious!



    The issue is that it's still not an essential service - Apple makes over 30% profit on everything they sell and this is much, much higher than their competition but nobody is going to take them to court for excessive profiteering because you are choosing the buy their product (oil's in trouble because you really don't have much of a choice even if their margins are less than 10%).
  • Reply 19 of 103
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    You need to learn some basic economic definitions, before spouting off words like "duopoly."



    You need to learn that anything followed with a laughing face is a joke.

    You need to get a sense of humor of which you obviously either lack or can't attain in your robotic program.
  • Reply 20 of 103
    exponentexponent Posts: 13member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    A group of U.S. senators this week asked the Federal Communications Commission to step in and examine whether exclusive relationships between wireless carriers and handset makers are in the best interest of customers.



    Quote:

    The letter -- signed by senators John Kerry (Dem. from Mass.), Roger Wicker (Rep. from Miss.), Amy Klobuchar (Dem. from Minn) and Byron Dorgan (Dem. from N.D.) -- precedes a hearing by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on the matter set for Wednesday to help determine whether legislative action is necessary.



    What a bunch of worthless bed-wetters.



    "OOHH - Company A may not be able to compete with Company B because Company C worked closely on a difficult project with Company B! We're LAWMAKERS - We'll come to the RESCUE!!! (Provided an equitable donation is made to our 're-election / slush' fund, of course.)"



    Bunch of worthless, Constitution-ignoring, corrupt bed-wetters. Same with their supporters.



    You don't like the deal you're getting from a company, no problem - use the competition, or start-up a competing company. That's the American Way - it served our forefathers well to piss on the garbage in this article.
Sign In or Register to comment.