The New Wireless Playing Field

Cell-phone makers and outsiders like Google want to break free from carriers' rigid controls and gain direct access to subscribers

Back in the 1980s, when Americans were buying the first brick-size cell phones, service providers quickly came to dominate the playing field with barely a struggle. Sure, there was a role for other companies, including the makers of those hefty handsets. But thanks to a government that doled out airwave licenses with few strings attached, the real power in the U.S. mobile-phone industry lay with Ma Bell and her powerful offspring. It was they that built out the networks, collected monthly bills and set the terms of use for the country's millions of cell-phone users.

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.