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FCC mandates data roaming after 3-2 vote, AT&T and Verizon aren't too happy about it

Sean Hollister
April 7, 2011
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Good news for small cellular carriers, and bad news for big ones today -- the Federal Communications Commission has decided to mandate data roaming by a 3-2 vote. Simply put, major carriers like AT&T and Verizon will be required to let you check your email and perform VoIP calls over their federally-licensed airwaves even if you're actually paying a regional carrier for your cellular coverage instead -- just as they've been required to do for voice and messaging since 2007. As you can imagine, Big Red and Ma Bell aren't exactly jumping for joy at the news, with both threatening to slow expansion into niche markets if they'll be forced to share their infrastructure. The victorious members of the FCC claim that this doesn't constitute common carriage because the big boys still get to negotiate "commercially reasonable" rates. Considering that two dissenting commissioners say that it is, indeed, common carriage, though, and thus beyond the powers granted to the FCC, we imagine we haven't heard the last of this debate. What happened to simply "incenting" the carriers to come to an agreement? Find statements from most every concerned party at the links below.

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