AT&T and Verizon still at odds with T-Mobile over FCC ruling on data roaming

AT&T and Verizon still at odds with T-Mobile over FCC ruling on data roaming
Late last year, the FCC ruled on a petition filed by T-Mobile over allegations that AT&T and Verizon were parsing language in government rules over “commercially reasonable” data roaming agreements, exploiting an advantage over smaller carriers.

T-Mobile offered some suggested benchmarks to the FCC and the regulator agreed with Team Magenta’s recommendations, ultimately giving a win to all competitive carriers.

The new rules would allow a disputing party to levy a complaint with the FCC, and the government could consider, at its discretion, additional factors while also deciding if a proposed roaming agreement is actually “commercially reasonable.”

AT&T stated it would appeal the decision to the full commission, and contended in its appeal (filed last month) that the FCC Wireless Bureau’s ruling was not “reasoned decision making.” AT&T further noted that the decision basically removed any measurable “standard” thus making the idea of a “commercially reasonable” assessment meaningless.

The FCC’s decision last December stated, “…the data roaming rule was intended to permit consideration of the totality of the facts and therefore to permit a complaining party to adduce evidence in any individual case as to whether proffered roaming rates are substantially in excess [of rates charged by others].” Basically, the rules allow any complaint to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, regardless of whatever “commercially reasonable” decision may have been reached.

Verizon’s filing was similar to AT&T, also stating that the FCC Wireless Bureau, who made the decision being challenged, cannot make rules, only the full commission has the authority to do that. Both also asserted that the bureau issued a decision that was not congruent with broader FCC policies in place, and that the law was actually broken in the process of making a decision.

Roaming agreements, under the broader policy of the FCC, are meant to only be a complement to a carrier’s services, not to serve as a primary vehicle to act as expanded coverage. The idea is to ensure service providers continue to invest in their own networks.

T-Mobile chimed in, with a rebuttal filing a couple days ago that AT&T’s and Verizon’s arguments are “nothing more than an untimely renewed attempt” to lean the field back in their favor. “AT&T and Verizon do not even address…the underlying premise of T-Mobile’s request” that guidance was required by the FCC because the “roaming marketplace is broken.” Team Magenta also stated that the ruling did not obligate AT&T and Verizon to anything new.

source: FierceWireless



1. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

While they may have a legitimate complaint, AT&T and Verizon sound like 2 bullies angry that they can't beat up people for their lunch money.

2. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

This problem is brought upon by the very entity that is investigating. The government broke up the bell system to ensure that a monopoly would not stand. Over the years, the government has allowed the family to slowly put itself back together again to become the two largest carriers. Now, the two largest control the industry while the smaller carriers have to piggyback off the two. They have the control and want to retain the control. And if they could, they would eliminate roaming agreements to bury the rest of the carriers. Unsurprisingly, AT&T has always been the biggest crybaby since it was the successful target broken up. I hate this company and everything it stands for regardless if people like it for coverage and service. It's sole directive is to monopolize and take advantage of its consumers. The sad part, is most consumers don't the realize this because they don't read tech sites like this to see how often the two largest are brought into question. They only feel they have two choices for service due to coverage. This is where the duoplogy becomes a monopoly. Both with identical goals that control all the cards and pumping millions alone into the government to insure their positioning. John B.

3. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

While I agree with you about Verizon and AT&T, T-Mobile has choices besides piggybacking off of the other carriers. They could build out their network with more towers or buyout other smaller carriers. Again, not saying that VZW or AT&T are in the right, but T-Mobile has other options. It's the reason I can't get service with them, because I live in a T-Mobile roaming area, and you have to be in a home area with them to get service.

7. Gemmol

Posts: 793; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

I agree with your post, Tmobile should build it out, but all the tmobile customers rather Tmobile just take from the big 2 and have it easy

9. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

Tmobile and Sprint do have choices. However, the smaller regional carriers have all but gone extinct. Purchasing these carriers would do very little to help elevate the competition needed to overthrow the two largest. The other thing to keep in mind is that Att and vzw have already convinced most of the small carriers to sign up for their project to improve coverage to rural areas. If any of these carriers were to falter and fail, the two largest would be in the position to grab the assests already compatible to their networks. The FCC is failing the american people by allowing all this to take place. T-Mobile and Sprint have the cards stacked against them. John B.

10. drazwy

Posts: 366; Member since: Jan 15, 2014

The problem is that it doesn't always work that way. Carriers have to bid on spectrum when it's up for auction. Mostly, the 2 big players buy out all the good spectrum and everyone else gets left out. T-Mobile has been making big strides here lately but they own far less licenses to broadcast than the big 2. So it's not always as simple as just putting up more towers. They may not have a License to broadcast in that area, which is where roaming becomes important. They do now have some less valuable spectrum that will allow them to build out LTE further into rural areas than before, but that doesn't happen overnight. By mid 2015 they will be almost done upgrading all their edge networks to LTE with their 700Mhz purchases. Thinking that once they do that, they can start concentrating on expanding past their current 2nd gen reach into areas they currently have no presence. If they have licenses and it's financially feasible. We'll have to see.

4. tedkord

Posts: 17511; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Verizon any AT&T are at odds with humanity.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless