Exclusive pacts on handsets pose big threat to consumers

Exclusive handset agreements limit access to the best wireless technology in many rural and regional markets. Studies indicate 90 percent of the most popular and powerful devices are under the four national wireless monopolies, which often do not serve large swaths of our mid- and small-sized towns. Many smaller carriers have vibrant and robust networks, but because these providers are denied the technology to offer these phones, customers in these towns are forced into a digital apartheid.

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Furthermore, technology is used as a barrier to tie consumers to their wireless carrier via device, and they give the national companies a free hand to drive up prices. In Europe, where wireless customers can match their wireless device to the wireless network they prefer, free of exclusivity agreements, consumers pay as much as $200 less each year for wireless service.

Lower prices and innovation are the product of competition. Competition requires real consumer choice. The FCC should get to the Google Voice story. But regulators and Congress should go one step further and just put an end to exclusive handset deals so consumers in rural and regional markets can access cutting-edge wireless devices.

McLean, Va.

Dems lack cohesion to pass good health bill

From Norm Grudman

Once again as history repeats itself, the Democratic Party is finding a way to make a winning opportunity into a loss.

Healthcare reform is the most important and ambitious legislation of the new century. The problem is the disarray within the Democratic Party, its lack of cohesion to pass a good bill.

President Barack Obama is a disappointment. Smart and charismatic, he is about to blow the chance for true reform. He can’t even get his own party onboard. The presidential campaign goes on and on and nothing significant gets accomplished.

The Democrats should look at the Republicans for the answer: strong, cohesive and firm in their unanimity.

Delray Beach, Fla.

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