The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has begun an investigation into exclusive mobile phone carrier deals.
FCC chairman Michael Copps said that the organisation will seek to determine whether consumers are benefitting from the exclusive deals between telcos and device manufacturers.
Such deals often result in a single device being linked with a phone service, requiring users to switch carriers or alter their service contracts in order to purchase popular handsets.
"In the fast-changing wireless handset market we must ensure that consumers are able to reap the benefits that a robust and innovative competitive marketplace can bestow," said Copps.
"The FCC as the expert agency should determine whether some of these arrangements adversely restrict consumer choice or harm the development of innovative devices, and it should take appropriate action if it finds harm."
Copps's statement comes shortly after members of the US Senate called telcos to the floor to explain the exclusive deals.
Critics charge that the deals violate consumers' rights to use devices as they see fit, while proponents say that the deals keep service providers competitive with one another, and provide incentives to upgrade and maintain networks.
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