Rural wireless carriers petition FCC to look into iPhone exclusivity deal

AT&T coverage mapWho knew the iPhone was so popular, especially in rural America? Actually, we knew it was popular, but it’s surprising to hear that rural wireless carriers are upset that they can’t offer their local subscribers any iPhone-love.

The problem is that AT&T and Apple have an iPhone exclusivity agreement that forces rural iPhone hopefuls to deal with roaming charges through AT&T. While the thought of paying roaming charges every time an iPhone connects to a network in the countryside is acceptable to some, most rural iPhone hopefuls likely cringe at the prospect of exorbitant roaming costs.

As such, the Rural Cellular Association, which represents a group of 80 small, rural wireless carriers, has filed a petition for the FCC to look into the legality of exclusivity deals like that between AT&T and Apple. The Wall Street Journal speculates that the Republican-controlled FCC will likely not make any moves on the issue before the upcoming election, but that could all change if Democrats take the White House.

Democrats have taken issue with early termination fees and exclusivity agreements between network operators and device manufacturers, which effectively limit the smaller, rural competition from offering the same products and services as the big players.

In either case, it will be interesting to see what the FCC does to open up the wireless market in the US. If the bigger players are forced to give up device exclusivity, we could see wireless rates and hardware costs from top US wireless network operators drop in the face of increased pressure from smaller carriers.

[Via: iPhone Central]

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