Rural Carriers Lambast Verizon Over Handset Concession

Sometimes the olive branch more resembles a thorny bougainvillea stick.

Verizon Wireless has pledged to share exclusive handsets with certain service providers, but the Rural Cellular Association (RCA) says the offer falls short of reality.

“The commitment does not go far enough to rectify the consumer and competitive harms caused by these agreements,” the group said in a prepared statement. “More than 180 million of the nation’s wireless customers are unable to benefit from the new policy.”

That’s because Verizon Wireless says it’ll only extend the rights to wireless providers with fewer than 500,000 customers. And, as RCA pointed out, the olive branch – extended because big wireless carriers face political pressure and antitrust allegations over handset exclusivity – does not include Research in Motion’s BlackBerry Storm.

RCA’s members include about 100 carriers; those providers lack the clout to make exclusive device arrangements with manufacturers, so most of their subscribers miss out on iPhones and the like.


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