Washington, D.C. – The Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc. (RTG), a trade association representing small, rural wireless carriers, applauds the FCC for placing roaming conditions on AT&T and Verizon as part of the approval of AT&T’s acquisition of the divestiture properties Verizon was forbidden from acquiring from Alltel because of its market dominance in those geographic areas.
By requiring that AT&T accommodate reasonable roaming requests for as long as it provides CDMA retail or roaming services at any given cell site, the FCC recognizes the threats to market competition that this transaction poses and it is countering that with a viable CDMA roaming option for other operators in these 79 markets.
“The ability to have fair roaming agreements is critical to all wireless carriers”, said Caressa Bennet, RTG’s General Counsel. “Verizon and AT&T have had over 25 years to put together a nationwide network so that they are less reliant on others for roaming. Newer wireless carriers, those who acquired spectrum through auctions held since 1995, have not had the enormous head start of Verizon and AT&T to provide nationwide service, and roaming agreements are critical for these wireless carriers and for any new entrants to compete when selling a voice and data product that works on a nationwide basis.”
While there will still be struggles for rural carriers to obtain reasonable rates, terms and conditions as well as timing issues, RTG is cautiously optimistic that the FCC’s mediation process along with the likely industry adoption of “Roaming Best Practices” will alleviate most of the bad behavior previously experienced by competing wireless carriers at the hands of Verizon and AT&T.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, RTG 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
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