A host of small, rural wireless carriers want the FCC to ban “exclusive” deals between phone makers and carriers, like AT&T’s deal to sell Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone in the U.S. The carriers will file a petition with the FCC, asking them to look into the deals, the WSJ reports.
These deals can mean that smaller carriers can’t offer the newest phones for months or years. Most Vermont residents, as well as residents in rural areas of 15 other states, can’t use the iPhone because AT&T offers only roaming coverage there, and other carriers who do offer mobile phone service can’t sell the iPhone, according to the complaint.
The trade group represents about 80 small and rural wireless companies, most serving fewer than 500,000 customers.
To which we say: Tough luck! We understand the value of a wireless phone as a utility/necessity. But that doesn’t mean that Apple — or any other company — should be specifically required to offer its phone to everyone. We assume Steve Jobs weighed the pros and cons of excluding the Vermont market before deciding to work with AT&T (T) — the nation’s biggest carrier. And we assume that if AT&T saw any reason to offer service in rural Vermont, it would. And that’s good enough for us.
But we’re brazen free-market capitalists, so we’ll ask you: What’s worse: That only AT&T subscribers can (legitimately) buy iPhones in the U.S.? Or the idea that the FCC should regulate where companies can sell their gadgets?
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