The WSJ is reporting that the Department of Justice is in the very early stages of an investigation into the possible anti-competitive nature of the wireless carrier business. The Justice Department may decide at the end of the review to start a formal investigation, or just walk away. Among the topics that the Feds will take a close look at is the recent practice of carriers to enter into exclusivity deals with the manufacturers of "hot" handsets. Such agreements, like the one Apple has in the U.S. with AT&T, have raised questions in the minds of regulators about how level the playing field is in the business. Another topic for review is whether the telecom carriers are restricting the services that other firms can offer on their networks.
Anti-trust experts expect the government to drag out the ole' chestnut, the Sherman Anti-trust Act, to measure the lawfulness of the carriers. These experts feel that the DOJ would have a tough time making its case because they would have to prove that a wireless firm is abusing its power. While no specific companies have been mentioned,Verizon and AT&T are the two largest wireless firms in the U.S, controlling 60% of the 270 million wireless subscribers in the States.