RWA appreciates the FCC’s attention to the issues surrounding data roaming – issues of tremendous importance to small and rural carriers across the country. RWA supported T-Mobile’s Petition for Declaratory Ruling, but encouraged the Commission to go further in providing practical guidelines to carriers to determine whether a proffered data roaming rate would be considered “commercially reasonable.” RWA has been a long-time proponent of tying “commercially reasonable” data roaming rates to the prevailing retail rates paid by American consumers for the exact same wireless data services. Wholesale inter-carrier data roaming rates should not exceed retail rates and still be considered “commercially reasonable.” The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission has adopted a similar standard to address wholesale mobile wireless roaming rate discrimination.
RWA is concerned that, without more concrete guidance, industry attention will simply shift from debating whether the data roaming rate at issue is “commercially reasonable,” to whether that rate “substantially exceeds” a particular benchmark or factor, and the precise meaning of that term. Until such time as there is such guidance, negotiations will linger on, market inequities will continue, small and rural wireless carriers will be put out of business, and American consumers will ultimately pay the price.
The statement above may be attributed to Daryl A. Zakov, RWA’s Assistant General Counsel.