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Giants Control Handset Market, Says Lawsuit
Posted: 23-Apr-2002 [Source: Newsbytes]

[Complaint alleges operators offer handsets primarily from major manufacturers along with contracts that say how those handsets are programmed, priced and distributed.]

by Brian Krebs, Washington, D.C. -- "The four largest wireless carriers have near total control over the U.S. handheld phone market, and consumers are being forced to buy phones solely from companies favored by the major carriers, according to a class-action antitrust lawsuit filed this month.

In a complaint entered on behalf of New York area cell phone customers, the Wireless Consumers Alliance accuses Verizon Wireless, Sprint PCS, AT&T Wireless and Voicestream Wireless of leaving consumers stuck with phones produced by a handful of manufacturers.

The lawsuit seeks to end a common industry practice of requiring subscribers to buy mobile phones solely from their carrier or an authorized reseller - such as Radio Shack or Best Buy - as a condition of obtaining wireless service.

The consumer group alleges that the major wireless carriers buy between 80 percent to 90 percent of all handsets from a few major manufacturers, and have used the exclusive contracts to dictate how their phones are programmed, priced and distributed.

That development has helped to crush third-party phone makers and limit the development of new technologies, the group claims."

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