Obama’s anti-trust cop Christine Varney is dusting off the Sherman Act and reviewing wireless companies’ exclusive handset deals–most notably AT&T’s monopoly control over Apple’s iPhone.
One suspects that Google lobbyists are somehow involved.
In any event, maybe there’s hope for Sprint and Verizon customers yet:
Amol Sharma of the WSJ: The Department of Justice has begun an initial review to determine whether large U.S. telecom companies such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. have abused the market power they’ve amassed in recent years, according to people familiar with the matter.
The review of potential anti-competitive practices is in its very early stages, and it isn’t a formal investigation of any specific company at this point, the people said. It isn’t clear whether the agency intends to launch an official inquiry.
Among the areas the Justice Department could explore is whether wireless carriers are hurting smaller competitors by locking up popular phones through exclusive agreements with handset makers, according to the people. In recent weeks lawmakers and regulators have raised questions about deals such as AT&T’s exclusive right to provide service for Apple Inc.’s popular iPhone in the U.S.
The Justice Department may also review whether telecom carriers are unduly restricting the types of services other companies can offer on their networks, one person familiar with the situation said.
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