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U.S. Mobile Phone Carrier Practices Questioned
During the hearing of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, representatives from both sides of the aisle called for a more open wireless system where new innovations aren't held hostage to the competition-killing carriers that control the network.
The iPhone was used as an example of a mobile phone tied to its carrier. AT&T has a (rumored) 5 year exclusive contract with the iPhone -- restricting use with other providers.
Marketwatch notes that the U.S. is unique in this regard:
Several industry critics who testified at the hearing noted that Asia and Europe obligate carriers to ensure that any device will work with their networks. Wireless entrepreneur Jason Devitt, chief executive of SkyDeck, said 800 devices would work on Vodafone Group plc's wireless network in Europe, whereas only 30 devices work on Verizon's network in the U.S.
Neither Apple nor AT&T testified at the hearing, and no laws have yet been proposed to address this issue.