[ars technica] It looks like the trade group representing rural mobile service carriers is running out of patience with the Federal Communications Commission. It has been two years, the Rural Cellular Association complains, since it asked the FCC to investigate the problem of exclusive deals between handset makers and big carriers like AT&T and Verizon.
And it has been over a year since FCC Chair Julius Genachowski assured Senator John Kerry (D-MA) that he'd give the question proper attention. "Yes, if confirmed, I will ensure that the full record on the RCA petition is reviewed, and act accordingly to promote competition and consumer choice," Genachowski declared, even before he formally took the job.
So where, RCA asks, are the results? "Rural consumers are still waiting for access to cutting-edge devices," the group laments.
RCA affiliates hate these AT&T/iPhone or Verizon/Storm deals because they lock them out of being being able to offer the hottest new mobiles to their customers. There's been some back and forth between Verizon and these carriers over the issue, but with uncertain results.
Now RCA says it wants the FCC to turn to Japan for inspiration on this issue. Two weeks ago that country's biggest mobile operator, NTT Docomo, announced that it will unlock the subscriber identity module (SIM) cards on all its handsets starting in April 2011. That means mobile subscribers who request the unlock will be able to use their device with another carrier by switching SIM cards.
Rural US carriers: we could learn a thing or two from Japan