In the wireless biz, simple economics ensure that the little guys have a harder time of everything, including the all-important matter of getting decent handset selections from manufacturers. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though -- beyond the lack of hot hardware, rural carriers are struggling to find a way to pay for network upgrades that'll get them in line with what the rest of the world's up to. Some 28 companies so far have banded together as NextGen Mobile, a consortium designed to share the cost of network upgrades and give smaller operators a unified voice for approaching manufacturers and demanding what it calls the "next 'it' handset." Though members haven't yet been identified, everyone involved in NextGen is GSM-based and either has or intends to deploy UMTS -- and down the road, LTE. We're probably not looking at a team that's going to be challenging Verizon or AT&T for market dominance here, but if it means more people are going to have access to high-speed data faster, we're down.

[Via Phone Scoop]