AT&T, Verizon Antitrust

The most noted cases of exclusive carriage of handsets include Apple's iPhone with AT&T Wireless and RIM's Blackberry Bold with Verizon Wireless.

The nation's two largest wireless phone providors -- AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless -- are now the focus of an antitrust review by the Department of Justice for alleged anti-competitive strategies, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The DOJ is looking into whether or not certain deals, including locking popular phones for use on one specific carrier, violate anti-competitive measures ruled in the Sherman Antitrust Act. The most noted cases of exclusive carriage of handsets include Apple's iPhone with AT&T Wireless and RIM's Blackberry Bold with Verizon Wireless.

The initial review came at the request of lawmakers, regulators and other officials working under the Obama Administration's new stance on cracking down on possible monopolies and cartels within certain industries, including healthcare, energy and telecommunications.

In order to progress with a formal investigation, which could come at any time, regulators must prove that a company created unfair competition practices, such as monopolizing resources, for profitable gain. In this case, regulators would have to prove AT&T and Verizon mishandled company resources, such as wireless towers and handheld mobile phones, to stifle competition from other companies.

The Sherman Antitrust Act, written by Ohio Republican John Sherman in 1980, does not prohibit market dominance by any one particular company.