Last month, the Federal Communications Commission voted to enact new rules that require national wireless broadband providers like Verizon and AT&T to provide data roaming to other carriers “on commercially reasonable terms and conditions.” Not surprisingly, Big Red is against this idea and has thus filed a lawsuit against the FCC in an attempt to have the rules reversed.
Verizon argues in its suit that these rules aren’t necessary because the telecom giant is already abiding by the spirit of the rule, having already entered into around 40 data roaming agreements.
However, the FCC law would compel Verizon and AT&T to negotiate a fair deal with a smaller carrier. Before the rule was approved, the big companies could pick and choose which of the smaller providers it wanted to deal with.
[Verizon argues that] the data roaming rules were “in excess of the commission’s statutory authority”… because they turn the carriers into a public utility, which is outside of the FCC’s wheelhouse.
“It is not at all surprising that Verizon Wireless is appealing the data roaming Order,” said the CEO of the Rural Cellular Association in response to the suit. “Verizon has fought competitive policies for a long time. They have opposed data roaming, they have opposed interoperability, and they have opposed putting an end to exclusive handset deals.”
This conflict over roaming agreements was evident at last week’s Senate Subcommittee hearings on the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, when the CEO of Cellular South testified that his company had been trying to arrange a data roaming deal with AT&T but that no one at the Death Star would negotiate with Cellular South because “their roaming guy is out of town.”
Where the lawsuits roam: Verizon sues FCC over data roaming rules [ArsTecnica.com]