Free Press: Verizon Wireless 'Compromise' Not Enough for Consumers

Contact Info: 
Moira Vahey, Free Press, (202) 265-1490 x31

WASHINGTON -- Today, in an attempt to curb mounting pressure from Congress and the Justice Department over exclusive handset deals, Verizon Wireless sent a letter to members of Congress announcing that it will limit exclusive deals to six months but only for the smallest carriers that do not pose major competitive threats. The new limit will impact about 5 percent of all wireless users, according to the most recent data from the FCC.

Verizon’s announcement comes after similar terms were turned down by rural carriers in negotiations earlier this year.

Chris Riley, policy counsel for Free Press, issued the following statement:

"Verizon has the right idea, but not the right solution -- consumers need protections, not promises. Self-regulation is not a substitute for real consumer protection laws. This is Verizon’s attempt to discourage federal investigators from further examining their efforts to restrict competition and stick consumers with the bill.

“Verizon’s new terms for exclusive handset deals do not go far enough to create meaningful consumer choice and competition. Why is the limit six months, and why is it limited only to the smallest carriers and not any of Verizon’s major competitors? This proposal does nothing to address the anti-competitive issues posed by handset exclusivity deals.”

Read the letter sent by Free Press, MAP, and Consumers Union to Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Sens. John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) and John F. Kerry (D-MA) responding to Verizon's exclusive handset deal limits : http://www.freepress.net/files/LetteronVerizonHEStatement072109.pdf

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Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications. Learn more at www.freepress.net

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