Excuse our lack of shock on this one, but if you believe what the nation's rural carriers are saying, the Big Four aren't playing nice with roaming agreements. Thanks to extensive build-outs, the days when Cingular, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile relied heavily on mom-and-pop companies to provide rural coverage are long gone. The opposite, however, is not true: customers of rural carriers are virtually always roaming when they venture into civilization. The inequity is leading to some unpleasant pricing schemes that are making business tough if you don't own a national network. USA Today specifically cites NTCH, SouthernLinc, and Leap Wireless as getting the shaft from Sprint, Nextel (both pre-merger), and Verizon respectively, all of whom have made roaming prohibitively expensive or disallowed it entirely. So far, the FCC hasn't put its foot down, but an investigation is underway and rural carriers are calling for the enforcement of consistent, reasonable roaming rates. Hey, FCC, while you're at it, can you enforce a consistent rate of $2/gallon for gas? No?

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