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FCC Mandates that AT&T and Verizon Allow Data Roaming

Article Comments  95  

Apr 7, 2011, 12:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman
updated Apr 7, 2011, 12:25 PM

The Federal Communications Commission today voted 3 - 2 in favor of forcing large companies such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless to permit smaller carriers to use their networks for data roaming. AT&T and Verizon Wireless already have to allow voice traffic to roam through their networks, but the new rules would mean that they have to strike roaming agreements with their smaller competitors for mobile data, too. The FCC says that AT&T and Verizon will need to offer roaming agreements at "commercially reasonable terms" and any company unable to strike a reasonable roaming agreement with AT&T and/or Verizon may petition the FCC. The Rural Carrier Association supports the new ruling, and notes that its members have been unable to come to terms with AT&T and Verizon Wireless. AT&T and Verizon Wireless opposed the new rules, and believe that the FCC doesn't have the authority to enforce them. Verizon said in response to the ruling, "Today's action represents a new level of unwarranted government intervention. By forcing carriers that have invested in wireless infrastructure to make those networks available to competitors that avoid this investment, at a price ultimately determined by the FCC, discourages network investment in less profitable areas. That is directly contrary to the interests of rural America and ... it is a defeat for both consumers and the innovation fostered by true competition."

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Apr 7, 2011, 12:08 PM

I side with VZW and AT&T

I don't believe the FCC has the authority to enforce such action. I understand that the intent is to help smaller carriers and consumers, but my question is how effective this move really will be. If it does help to bolster smaller rural carriers, then I suppose I can justify this action. Else, this is simply a move to increase its power.
On the other side of the coin....cell phone towers are ugly. I'd rather not see every small company have to put up their own towers.
So you don't think the Federal Agency in charge of communication over public airwaves has the authority to enforce pre existing laws requiring them to allowing roaming? Wow. Been to many Tea Parties, or just not paying attention?

Att and Vzw knew ...

Apr 10, 2011, 5:38 PM

The government just needs to but out of somethings

read subject

Apr 9, 2011, 6:15 AM

Try This

"Today's action represents a new level of unwarranted government intervention. By forcing carriers that have invested in wireless infrastructure to make those networks available to competitors that avoid this investment, at a price ultimately determined by the FCC"

Even if one accepts that the FCC has the authority to force carriers to allow data roaming, the most damning part of this is the price being ultimately determined by the FCC.

So I'm thinking about this and how there is something that is just rubbing me the wrong way about this. Try this: It's like having two kids and you tell the older kid, "You share with your little sister. If she tells me that you were not fair in your division of that candy bar I will get on you.
I'm certain the prices they're making them use would be equivalent to what VZW charges Sprint. Same price as a large-ish competitor.

If AT&T is allowed to buy T-Mobile, this is going to be absolutely necessary to pass for smaller carriers to even h...

Apr 7, 2011, 12:19 PM

Lame FCC

It's not VZW or AT&T fault that these local carriers don't want to invest in building towers around the country. There's a reason why these big 2 spend the money to expand in order to be #1.

If any agreement is reached then just give them 10kbps speed while on roaming.
The thing Verizon and ATT are not taking into account is that together they own more than 70% of all the available spectrum for mobile phone services in America. Rural carriers already have data networks in the markets they serve (and they do invest i...
glinc said:
It's not VZW or AT&T fault that these local carriers don't want to invest in building towers around the country. There's a reason why these big 2 spend the money to expand in order to be #1.

If any agreement is reac
That's a good idea. It's bad enough that I've had to hear the Sprint employees gloat about how they were able to pay Sprint prices and enjoy Verizon coverage for years now the *Bleeping* Cellular South commercials will gloat about Unlimited Everythin...

Apr 8, 2011, 10:07 AM

Why is anyone upset?

This is better for everyone. This doesn't mean that if you're in an area that both companies service you will be able to roam. This means that if you have vzw and don't have coverage but at&t has data you will be to use it. It works the other way around and just might save you if you're out in b.f.e one day.
So. If I am in "b.f.e." as you say and I need to surf the web on my phone, what would I be saved from assuming there is somewhere that I wouldn't have VZW coverage on data. If there were an emergency I would dial 911. I worked as a 48 state trucker...

Apr 8, 2011, 6:37 AM

No pity for AT&T or Verizon

I live in a rural/small town area of Oklahoma, just 40 miles from Oklahoma City. AT&T has held a license to operate in this area for 22 years. Verizon also has a license for this area. Neither has EVER spent a DIME to cover this area, and Verizon recently publicly said they have no intention of ever building a network in this part of Oklahoma. Both offer service here via roaming with CellularOne and Pioneer Cellular, small regional carriers who DID make the investment in a physical system here. We also have coverage via T-Mobile and Sprint, who did build their own systems, so we are not bereft of options, just not the "Big 2" carriers. So At&T and Verizon can whine and cry all they want about having to allow the small carriers' ...

Apr 8, 2011, 6:14 AM

The end of GSM and CDMA voice traffic...

What the big issue at hand is the sunset of dedicated voice systems. Within a few years, there will not be "voice traffic" and "data traffic", but all voice traffic will be carried via data, therefore no data roaming will equal no voice roaming. The carriers aren't going to develop a dedicated LTE voice system and a dedicated LTE data system, it's all going to be going through a single LTE data system, including emergency calls such as 911.

Once the carriers start rolling out LTE, it won't take long and they're going to have incentives for consumers to switch so the current GSM and CDMA systems can be decommissioned, just like the analog and TDMA systems of yesteryear. They don't want to maintain many different networks, and the only c...

Apr 7, 2011, 1:19 PM

I Saw This Coming

When Verizon first chose the LTE path, I saw this coming. A terrible injustice. Get the lawyers ready. They HAVE to fight this.
I saw this coming when VZW started to move to buy Alltel. It's a lot easier for government to get involved when they only have two companies to boss around.
the biggest hurdle is "offering data roaming to smaller, regional carriers at a *reasonable* price". if these small, regional carriers report to the FCC that AT&T and VZW are "unreasonable" then the FCC will find AT&T/VZW and force them to be more r...

Apr 7, 2011, 7:26 PM

Fair, maybe

Now that I've had a moment to think about this, if ATT and VZN are going to be forced to do this, then they should only have to be forced to allow a percentage of their network be used for data roaming and what areas can be worked out between them and the smaller carriers. If the smaller carriers want a further increase in coverage, then they need to invest in their own network growth just like that larger carriers did.
T Bone

Apr 7, 2011, 1:53 PM

What incentive do small carriers have...

What possible incentive do small carriers have to spend money to build up their own networks if they can just leach of the large carriers free of charge?

The purpose of roaming agreements is to benefit TWO parties, the small carrier gets to increase their coverage area by roaming on the large network, and the large network get to expand their coverage area by roaming on the small networks. In addition, both carriers get the licensing fees for using the other carrier's towers.

Mandating one sided roaming agreements help one company while unfairly punishing the other company.

This is just plain BAD BUSINESS which seriously harms everyone who is a customer of at&t or Verizon.
i think the smaller carriers should pay a premium for their customers to be able to use a network they had no investment in. i also agree that the speeds roamers have access to shouldnt be what vzw and att customers enjoy.

those two addendums i'm s...
Roaming for free. Where did it say that? You got it all wrong. They are required to allowing roaming. The rules come with the spectrum, and that belongs to the public, they are only renting it. The problem was, they were breaking the rules they agreed...
Smaller carriers can't just up and build networks in areas they wish to. In order for "smaller carriers" to establish a new market, they must acquire the spectrum for that desired market. Which is most likely already owned by Verizon. So yes, they ...
Typically that's the only type of business government knows how to run else they'd be in the private sector making a killing rather than in the public sector.
I don't think this is really a bad idea, both VZW and AT&T isn't going to be losing money on this deal, in fact they will make money on the terms. The FCC didn't say free access, or at cost. Just some vague idea of terms.
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