Mobile Carriers Must Allow Roaming For A "Reasonable" Cost, Says FCC

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.

FCC Requires Mobile Carriers to Allow Roaming [PC World]

(Photo: Getty)


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  1. netbuzz says:

    Best laugh of the day: “And then Sprint ate a newborn and cackled maniacally.”

  2. IC18 says:

    Sprint will say $.76 a minute is reasonable enough.

  3. hustler says:

    Reasonable means they can charge whatever they want until the next election season and some representative gets excited over the opportunity to exploit “overcharging”

  4. Cowboys_fan says:

    This sounds pretty meaningless to me. I do agree you should have roaming access if available 100%. Reasonable however, means nothing, like virtually. Whats reasonable to Verizon is not so reasonable to Metro. The problem is a small carrier pays more to a large carrier as they won’t get a bulk discount, and vice-versa. When I worked for t-mobile, all but 1 plan was nationwide anyway = no roaming charges. And where these companies lose money on roaming rates, do we seriously think they will simply eat the loss? Hardly, they will just charge more for text, plans, phones, international roaming, etc. They’ll probably start charging for call waiting and crap again.

  5. …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.

    Yeah, except isn’t there already some kind of universal access fee already? What’s it for if not universal access?

    Maybe they’ll just call the new fee universal access #2.

  6. Geekybiker says:

    So yet another case of where the city dwellers will end up subsidizing the infrastructure of the boondocks.

  7. Doc Benway says:

    @Geekybiker: No. We keep the people living in the boondocks exactly where they belong. IN THE BOONDOCKS.

  8. Jaysyn was banned for: says:


    Hush yo’ mouth or we’ll stop feeding your cityfied ass :D

  9. TechnoDestructo says:

    The mobile companies want to protect this as vigorously as possible, because they figure if they can keep charging a fortune for access to their networks by others, they’ll be able to do the same for internet traffic when net neutrality ends.

  10. thisisanatasia says:

    This is actually very useful in situations like my own. I am with Metro PCS in the bay area, where I pay $55 flat per month for unlimited calls (local and long distance), texts, and data transfer. Unfortunately, the moment I step out of the greater bay area I am SOL and unreachable for whatever amount of time I’m gone. While I would hate to pay for it, being able to contact people while I’m out of town would be preeeetty sweet, if you ask me.

  11. azntg says:

    The members of the United States Mobile Services Consortium genuinely, wholehearted and in good faith believes that $0.99/min and the $5 cost of network sharing is a reasonable fee for the American public, espeically in the light that the federal minimum wage has just been raised.

  12. floofy says:

    If people don’t want to pay roaming rates, why not get an all 50 state plan. Companies do have those. Otherwise, if people don’t want to pay it, restrict their access so they can’t use the phone at all if they are roaming!!

  13. dethl says:

    “Sprint said the average roaming cost per minute was four cents”

    Yet they still want to rape their customers with 69 cent per minute roaming costs (which just started at the beginning of the month!). No intervention my ass. I still have a standing BBB complaint to get out of my contract without an ETF because of the change (even though they claim that roaming is “free”).

  14. silverlining says:

    “Sprint said the average roaming cost per minute was four cents, and that no FCC intervention was necessary.”

    Wait, what? What carrier offers $.04/min roaming? I want THAT one!

    (Not to mention that if $.04/min is the average, that some companies have to come substantially below that mark to make up for the $.79/min roaming… do these carriers pay their customers to roam??)

  15. reed311 says:

    I used to work for a rural cell phone provider. We charged our customers anywhere from .40 to .80 to roam. However, we were only being charged .03 by the major companies. The cell phone company that is charging you for roaming is making all the profit, not the company you are roaming off of.

  16. Caroofikus says:

    I know this is an old story, but has anyone ever looked at Alltel? Their roaming rate is $0.69 per minure. Want a rate with no roaming charges? That’ll be $39.99…for 200 minutes.

    Makes me wonder if I can just bend over in the store and we can call it even…