updated 03:20 pm EDT, Fri July 31, 2009
FCC to probe iPhone gaps
The FCC will consider the limited rural availability of products like the iPhone as it explores the merits of exclusive American cellphone contracts, an interview reveals. "There are markets in the country where if you wanted an iPhone, if you wanted a Pre, you just couldn't get it -- from anyone," according to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski. "So one question is, is that consistent with broad consumer interests?"
The probe was instigated by members of the Senate Commerce Committee, who in turn took their cue from a petition by the Rural Cellular Association. The RCA's main worry is said to be the inherent advantage national carriers have over rural ones, due to their ability to secure exclusives on high-profile phones. AT&T has defended deals like its multi-year iPhone contract however, claiming it keeps prices down and leads to innovation. Verizon may be attempting to defuse public concerns, meanwhile, by limiting all of its future exclusives to six months.