Washington, D.C. – The Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc. (RTG) is thrilled with the Federal Communications Commission’s decision earlier today to formally recognize that data roaming is a necessity for all Americans.
RTG’s members can now be secure in the fact that when they deploy 3G and 4G networks in rural America, their customers will be able to leave those networks and roam on compatible data networks in urban and suburban areas. Rural consumers now have the comfort of knowing that they can access data services using a single smartphone. Likewise, urban consumers will be able to access 3G and 4G data networks in rural areas in the future, increasing the likelihood that President Obama’s initiative to bring 4G to 98 percent of the United States will become a reality.
“The vast majority of mobile carriers, both large and small, have waited a long time for the Commission to recognize that both data roaming and voice roaming are critical to competition and keeping consumer pricing affordable,” stated Carri Bennet, RTG’s General Counsel. “This decision creates a practical regulatory framework that should help protect all carriers from anticompetitive practices and by extension secures national data roaming for all American consumers regardless of who they use as their mobile wireless service provider.”
Central to this new policy is the obligation of mobile carriers to enter into data roaming agreements with each other so long as the terms and conditions are commercially reasonable and the carriers’ technologies are compatible. RTG applauds the Commission’s adoption of an arbitration process that encourages both parties to come to sensible, commercially reasonable terms and conditions. By putting some teeth behind the decision, the FCC helps make it possible for competition to flourish despite the huge amount of nationwide spectrum the Big Two carriers have at their disposal.
RTG is hopeful that the great strides that the industry has made today will not be diluted as the Commission begins to examine AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile and the prospects that transaction would have on the already winnowing competitive landscape.
About RTG – Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc. (RTG) is a trade association representing rural wireless carriers who each 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. ruraltelecomgroup.org @RTGwireless
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