FCC votes along party lines to require AT&T, Verizon to make data roaming deals

“The Federal Communications Commission adopted new rules today at its monthly public meeting that will require wireless service providers, such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless, to negotiate wireless data roaming deals with competitors,” Marguerite Reardon reports for CNET.

“As expected, the FCC voted along party lines, with the three Democrats including Chairman Julius Genachowski voting in favor of the measure,” Reardon reports. “Meanwhile, Republicans Robert McDowell and Meredith Atwell-Baker voted against the new rules, stating they don’t believe the FCC has the authority or a reason to adopt such rules.”

Reardon reports, “The new rules will require wireless operators that own their infrastructure and spectrum to ‘offer data roaming arrangements to other such providers on commercially reasonable terms and conditions, subject to certain limitations.’

Commissioner Michael Copps, who voted in favor of the new rules, said that he is ‘pleased that data roaming’s time has arrived.’ He said that the rules advance ‘two key goals of his and the commission’s in protecting wireless consumers and promoting competition,'” Reardon reports. “The Republican commissioners agreed that data roaming among wireless operators is a good thing for the industry, but they disagreed that the FCC needs rules that will force wireless operators to negotiate with competitors and offer ‘reasonable rates.'”

Reardon reports, “McDowell said that the commission does not have the authority to adopt such rules, since he believes the rules would impose Title II “common carrier” regulation onto a service that the FCC has specifically deemed in the past to not be considered something regulated under Title II. ‘I also agree with my colleagues that many benefits flow from the widespread availability of data roaming,’ he said. ‘Nonetheless, the commission simply does not have the legal authority to adopt the regulatory regime mandated by this order.'”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]


  1. Well, out here in Dank Wattle, WA, roaming of any sort is good. Cell phone voice coverage is very spotty and, if you’re with Verizon, there are a lot of regional companies that have a voice roaming deal with Verizon so that we the customers can actually use our phones to make phone calls. Everybody wins. Now, if they also include data roaming, which they currently do not, life would be grand.

    If you’re with Sprint or one of the regional carriers, you’re out of luck. They don’t share with each other. No voice roaming, no data roaming, no nothing when you leave the home area.

    Sadly, AT&T is the only GSM carrier around here, so there’s no roaming of any sort. That’s funny because, when AT&T was converting their analog cell service to digital under the Cingular banner, one of the big benefits was no roaming charges! Well, duh… there’s nowhere to roam to!

  2. Obviously many of you have never been outside the US… where the wireless industry is government regulated, with uniform standards, and flawless service. Please leave your ideologic attachments rest, get an education… and travel, see the world. Learn what humanity can do with well functioning governance.

  3. You know what I like about Liberals?

    Absolutely nothing!

    Buying more ammo so when the socialistic, secular progressives and Democrats try to take over the USA I will be able to defend myself and my family.

  4. CDMA vs. GSM.

    Any roaming agreement between AT&T and Verizon is pointless at the moment.

    Maybe if they choose a convergent technology for 4G (Is that the case with LTE?).

    Good job, FCC. Thanks for lookin’ out.

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