The wireless industry is essentially at the saturation point, so exclusive phones matter more than ever, especially ones like the iPhone for AT&T or the touchscreen Blackberry Thunder for Verizon, phones that really drive people to particular carriers. So it's no wonder the Rural Cellular Association (repping smaller regional carriers) is petitioning the FCC to ban exclusive deals, which obviously push people out of smaller local carriers to the established juggernauts, since it can take months or years for trickle down. The iPhone is at the center of the complaint.
Basically, the peg is that most people in Vermont can't get an iPhone, since AT&T only has roaming coverage there, and none of the carriers in the area can offer it. While it sounds like a nice, egalitarian thing the gov't could latch onto, the petition will probably fail.
As big as FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is on promoting competition, it's really only particular kinds of competition, and this doesn't really fall into the rubric. Moreover, this isn't the first time this kind of petition has been filed, and it's been smacked down every time before. Sorry, Green Mountain Staters and boondocks-dwellers, you're probably not going to get an iPhone till iPhone 4 or 5, when that AT&T exclusive finally runs out. [WSJ via Silicon Alley Insider]