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FCC votes to require data-roaming agreements

Grant Gross, IDG News Service | April 7, 2011
The Federal Communications Commission requires mobile carriers to negotiate data roaming agreements.

AT&T has negotiated one data-roaming agreement for its 3G High-Speed Packet Access network since launching the service in 2005, the FCC said.

But AT&T has "ubiquitous" data-roaming agreements in place for its 2.5G service, said Margaret Boles, an AT&T spokeswoman. AT&T is also negotiating several 3G agreements, but several carriers don't have 3G services in place yet, she said.

"The evidence presented in this proceeding demonstrated conclusively that proponents of a roaming mandate were seeking government intervention, not to obtain agreements -- which are plentiful -- but rather to regulate rates downward," added Bob Quinn, AT&T's senior vice president of federal regulatory policy, in a statement.

Verizon said it has a spectrum-sharing agreement with several rural carriers. It called the rules "unwarranted government intervention."

Sprint and two trade groups, the Rural Cellular Association and the Rural Telecommunications Group, praised the FCC action.

"The vast majority of mobile carriers, both large and small, have waited a long time for the commission to recognize that both data roaming and voice roaming are critical to competition and keeping consumer pricing affordable," said Carri Bennet , RTG's general counsel. "This decision creates a practical regulatory framework that should help protect all carriers from anticompetitive practices and by extension secures national data roaming for all American consumers regardless of who they use as their mobile wireless service provider."


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