As an attempt to derail both FCC
and Congressional inquiries
into exclusive handset deals, Verizon today threw lawmakers a bone. In a letter to lawmakers, Verizon says they'll offer carriers with fewer than 500,000 customers access to exclusive Verizon handsets after six months. It's a fairly small gesture aimed largely at preventing regulation -- though from a letter excerpt
it's fairly clear Verizon isn't really
budging from their belief that exclusivity deals are great for consumers:
Exclusivity arrangements promote competition and innovation in device development and design. We work closely with our vendors to develop new and exciting devices that will attract customers.
Of course Verizon probably wouldn't mind if lawmakers loosened AT&T's grip on the iPhone, and Verizon's move puts the onus on AT&T to make concessions of their own. There's been growing pressure from consumer groups like Free Press for Uncle Sam to end exclusivity deals, which Free Press insists
carriers have used to "stifle innovation, cripple applications, and stick users with the bill."