Washington, DC – Today, in an ex parte notice filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission), RCA (Rural Cellular Association) and RTG (Rural Telecommunications Group) cited specific examples of anticompetitive behavior experienced by their respective members when attempting to obtain data roaming agreements with AT&T and/or Verizon Wireless. Companies such as Cox Communications, Cellular South, SouthernLINC Wireless, Mosaic Telecom, Copper Valley Wireless and SRT Communications report having had difficulties obtaining a data roaming agreement with AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Even worse, many member companies reported their struggle to merely receive a response to a request for data roaming from the larger carriers, some reporting delays of up to 18 months.
“It is clear from the numerous examples listed in the ex parte that the inability to secure data roaming agreements is a major road block for rural and regional carriers,” said Steven K. Berry, RCA President & CEO. “The FCC should not allow large dominant carriers to pick and choose their carrier partners solely based on their own coverage gaps. Consumers expect and deserve their devices to work wherever a network is present, not whether or not their local carrier has jumped through hoops to secure data roaming with a national carrier.”
RTG’s General Counsel Carri Bennet emphasized, “It is incredulous that AT&T and Verizon Wireless would claim that there is no need for a data roaming mandate when the evidence weighs so heavily against their claims that market forces will take care of the problem. Rural carriers do not have nationwide coverage and without fair data roaming agreements in place will not be able to provide rural Americans mobile broadband services that stretch beyond their rural service areas.”
RCA’s Berry continued, “Without a data roaming mandate, many small, local rural and regional carriers will be prevented from competing with the larger carriers and may be forced to cut or close their businesses. Mandating data roaming is not only about providing consumers with the ability to access a network no matter where they live or travel, but it is also about jobs. A competitive wireless marketplace is essential to maintaining a healthy economy, and I call on the FCC to take prompt action and mandate data roaming to help ensure that small rural and regional carriers are able to compete and thrive.”
About RCA – RCA is the nation’s leading association for wireless providers serving rural areas of the United States. The licensed service area of RCA’s nearly 90 members covers more than 80 percent of the nation.
About RTG – Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Rural Telecommunications Group is a trade association representing rural wireless carriers who serve less than 100,000 subscribers. RTG’s members have joined together to speed delivery of new, efficient and innovative telecommunications technologies to remote and underserved communities. www.ruraltelecomgroup.org @RTGwireless