The US regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), formally announced a inquiry into competition in the country’s mobile sector yesterday. “The FCC is seeking to ensure that competition in the mobile wireless market continues to bring substantial benefits to American consumers,” the regulator said in a statement, reports Associated Press. The FCC is expected to look at a number of issues in the industry, including the exclusivity deals between handset makers and operators such as AT&T’s exclusive deal to offer Apple’s iPhone. Such deals have come under scrutiny from US politicians recently amid concerns that the such practices could distort competition in the market.

The regulator also voted unanimously in favour of issuing a separate inquiry into how it can spur innovation and investment across the sector. “We are at a pivotal moment in the history of the mobile industry,” FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in the statement. “We are transitioning from a voice-centric world to a world of ubiquitous, mobile Internet access. This transition promises to increase the pace of innovation and investment, but only if we have an open and competitive marketplace.” The FCC inquiry comes a few weeks after it asked Apple and AT&T to explain the decision to reject the Google Voice application for the iPhone. Apple told the FCC it is still studying the application for the iPhone and is not conspiring with AT&T to bar the software from its devices.