Verizon Wireless: Well Share Handsets, Sorta

Verizon Wireless (VZ) has kindly agreed to let other carriers use the handsets it buys on an exclusive basis with manufacturers.

But wait. There is a catch. Or, a couple, really.

First, Verizon Wireless won’t share with others for six months after releasing a nifty new device. Second, it will only play with rivals that have 500,000 or fewer customers. That amounts to less than 6 percent of wireless units, according to various media reports.

Verizon Wireless is acting in the face of political pressure. The FCC has agreed to review handset exclusivity deals and Congress is pressuring providers to be more consumer-friendly. In other words, Verizon Wireless isn’t acting out of some philanthropic urge.

On the plus side, the concessions are good for rural wireless users, who thus far have been unable to buy cool phones like Apple’s iPhone or LG’s enV because the networks don’t reach really remote areas.

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