updated 05:20 pm EDT, Thu March 17, 2011
FCC pressed by carriers for data roaming
An informal coalition of smaller US carriers has pushed for the FCC to require data roaming agreements with AT&T and Verizon. Sprint, T-Mobile, Cricket, and carriers in the Rural Cellular Association have argued that they need a guarantee their subscribers can run data on these networks, not just voice, when they can't be on their native networks. They asked the FCC to "promptly move forward" and were hoping to get it on the FCC's meeting agendas as soon as April, Politico said.
AT&T and Verizon themselves have largely tried to dismiss the complaints. They argue that they already have roaming agreements in place that include data. The smaller carriers mainly want lower rates to give themselves an advantage, an anonymous executive said.
The incumbents have also repeated their objections to any FCC rules that would treat data like voice, where common carrier deals require that they always connect to those from competing networks and can't deliberately overcharge those that do. Their objections helped soften the FCC's net neutrality rules, and they have regularly worked with Republican congressional representatives to put forward bills that would ban as much regulation of the Internet as possible, including mobile. Most have been shot down by the Senate or the President.
The FCC hasn't commented on its course of action. It has been more eager to advocate neutrality and a level playing field than its tenure during the previous administration, but it has also faced legal threats for any attempt to require fair treatment of data.