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FCC to probe rural gaps in US phone availability

updated 03:20 pm EDT, Fri July 31, 2009

FCC to probe iPhone gaps

The FCC will consider the limited rural availability of products like the iPhone as it explores the merits of exclusive American cellphone contracts, an interview reveals. "There are markets in the country where if you wanted an iPhone, if you wanted a Pre, you just couldn't get it -- from anyone," according to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski. "So one question is, is that consistent with broad consumer interests?"

The probe was instigated by members of the Senate Commerce Committee, who in turn took their cue from a petition by the Rural Cellular Association. The RCA's main worry is said to be the inherent advantage national carriers have over rural ones, due to their ability to secure exclusives on high-profile phones. AT&T has defended deals like its multi-year iPhone contract however, claiming it keeps prices down and leads to innovation. Verizon may be attempting to defuse public concerns, meanwhile, by limiting all of its future exclusives to six months.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. jhawk95

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2006


    This is Ridiculous

    First of all, those "Rural" phone markets have not deployed the technology for the iPhone to work in their markets. You cannot install full 3G towers with unlimited access for the 5 farmers who live within 50 miles of a tower in Western Kansas for example. It is not cost effective.

    But if we are going to guarantee that every American that wants to buy a product have full and equal access to it.... then I am going to petition the FDA to get IN-N-OUT Burger to open up a franchise in my neighborhood immediately because I have been deprived my IN-N-OUT here in the Midwest for way too long.

  1. Raman

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Mar 2001



    "There are markets in the country where if you wanted an iPhone, if you wanted a Pre, you just couldn’t get it -- from anyone,"


    Seriously. How childish. Do people really think they're entitled to everything they want?

  1. garmonbosia

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2002


    RE: jhawk95

    "You cannot install full 3G towers with unlimited access for the 5 farmers who live within 50 miles of a tower in Western Kansas for example. It is not cost effective."

    That was the argument conservatives used to try to defeat rural electrification and phone access in the 1930's. The truth is we have a right, when we allow a company ownership of limited public bandwidth, to make sure the general public good is served. You can't have a company skimming the most cost effective customers and refusing service to everyone else.

    That said, I don't think every hermit living in the middle of nowhere is guaranteed every utility that city folk get. I think the FCC should make sure the cell companies aren't excluding parts of the country just to maximize profits.

    Your In-and-Out burger example doesn't relate to this on two counts. 1) They aren't basing their business on using limited public airwaves, and 2) If burger chains had to serve a public good, since I'm here in Seattle, I'd insist on Dicks Burgers. ;-)

  1. joesporleder

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2009


    I'd be happy with 2G spd

    I live in North Central Kansas and travel much of Central and Western areas of Kansas for my job. There is a fairly decent tower access in most of the area when Kansas Cellular sold out to Alltel. Now Alltel has merged with Verizon. Unfortunately, its on the wrong network to work with an iPhone. I get 600-700kbps down and about 200kbps up when I tether my MacBook with a RAZR2. I know 3G is considerably faster, but I'd enjoy an iPhone that works, even if a bit slow on the network. Maybe someday between Apple, Verizon and AT&T, somebody will work my area of the word into their business plan, but until then, oh well. I like where I live more than my desire for an iPhone! :-D

  1. vasic

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2005


    Nobody gets it...!

    This is not about the rights of hermits in the boondocks. The complaint was brought up by rural carriers; those that already have a network and paying customers. Ironically, they most often are the only operator in their area, so they get all customers. As such, they don't NEED iPhone, or Pre, or Storm, or G1 in order to get people. All they are asking is to be allowed to sell these cool devices. Such a deal wouldn't threaten the big carrier that already has an exclusionary contract -- they don't HAVE a presence in the rural markets anyway.

    Every big carrier has a few cool exclusive devices. This is exactly what they use to poach each other's customers. People served by rural carriers can't get ANY of these cool devices. All they can get is two-year old models that are commodity. Letting these carriers sell new devices in markets where nobody else is present won't hurt anyone's bottom line, but would allow rural guys to offer newer devices to their 100,000 (or fewer) customers.

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