Justice Dept. Begins Peeking Into Exclusive Carrier Agreements

The United States Department of Justice has taken the first baby steps that could eventually lead to an official investigation of the Telecom industry and the effects its exclusive carrier agreements have on consumer prices and choices, according to a Wall Street Journal report Monday.

The initial review looks 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.

Largely moribund and hamstrung by internal politics and inefficiency during the Bush administration, DOJ under President Barack Obama has seen renewed relevance as an arm of the Federal government and has lately signaled business as usual could soon be ending for an industry left to its own devices during the past decade or more.

Many people have long decried exclusive carrier agreements that make popular gadgets such as Apple’s iPhone available only to consumers willing to sign multi-year service agreements with AT&T and likewise Blackberry’s Storm to those who’d sign with Verizon.

The Wall Street Journal quoted the Justice Department’s antitrust chief, Christine Varney, saying she wants to “reassert the government’s role in policing monopolistic and anti-competitive practices by powerful companies.”

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About the author

Lonnie Lazar

Lonnie Lazar is a writer-musician-web designer-attorney. He writes about Apple for Cult of Mac and Mac|Life, and about VoIP and telecommunications for Voxilla. Follow Lonnie on Twitter @LonnieLazar, join the Cult of Mac on Facebook, and find Lonnie's photos on Flickr.

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