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Saturday, 20 June 2009 00:50

FCC will examine exclusive contracts between telcos, mobile manufacturers

The Federal Communications Commission will be looking into whether exclusive contracts, such as AT&T's for the iPhone or Sprint for the Pre, stifle competition and harm consumers. 

The investigation was revealed by interim FCC chairman Michael Copps, speaking at a Washington conference on broadband Internet.

Copps said that he had instructed agency staff to open a probe into the anticompetitive effect of such contracts.

"The commission as the expert agency should determine whether some of these arrangements adversely restrict consumer choice or harm the development of innovative devices, and it should take appropriate action if it finds harm," Copps said.

The comments come after four U.S. senators sent Copps a letter earlier this week asking the FCC to act on a petition from smaller, rural carriers complaining that the exclusive contracts prevent them from offering their customers the latest or most advanced devices

Also earlier this week, Julius Genachowski, President Obama's nominee for FCC chairmanship, addressed the issue during his confirmation hearing.

In a written response to questions, Genachowski said that he would look into the rural carriers' concerns.

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