The FCC announced yesterday that commercial mobile phone carriers are obligated to provide roaming connections, including mobile voice calls, text messaging, and push-to-talk services, for a “reasonable” cost. This matters most to customers of small and rural carriers, whose sometimes pay as high as $0.79 a minute to access large carriers’ networks. The political response was as expected: Democrats said the FCC should have included data transfer, and Republicans said the “light regulatory approach” was just right. Sprint said the average roaming cost per minute was four cents, and that no FCC intervention was necessary. And then Sprint ate a newborn and cackled maniacally.
We’re assuming that it will be two to three years before we see anything come of this, and when it does, that it will be turned into a “revenue opportunity” by the carriers, something along the lines of a $2.00 recovery fee or a “network cooperation surcharge.” But perhaps this will help improve prices for customers in the boondocks who don’t ever get the opportunity to indenture themselves to the big carriers.