Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless will limit new handset exclusivity for six months, presumably allowing smaller rural carriers access to them more quickly. The action was outlined in a letter sent to key lawmakers, according to the Wall Street Journal (subs. required). Despite years of rural carriers highlighting this issue as anti-competitive, it’s only now gotten the ear of the FCC and Congress. “Any new exclusively arrangement we enter with handset makers will last no longer than six months – for all manufacturers and all devices,” said Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam. Verizon Wireless announced a similar initiative a few months back, but limited only to LG and Samsung devices.

Congress pushed the FCC to look at this issue, which new FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has agreed to do. The Justice Department has also opened up an informal review of the overall telecom industry, with wireless handset exclusivity being a central focus. Verizon’s move is clearly a response to the rising heat surrounding the practice. They added though, they reserve the right to continue the practice, citing it’s necessary for the competitive market.

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