The statement below may be attributed to Daryl Zakov, RWA’s Assistant General Counsel.
The Rural Wireless Association, Inc. (RWA) applauds T-Mobile USA, Inc.’s (T-Mobile) petition for declaratory ruling filed earlier today with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission). The petition seeks greater clarity on the practical application of the Commission’s data roaming rule. RWA has been a long-time proponent of tying “commercially reasonable” data roaming rates to the prevailing retail rates paid by American consumers for those exact same wireless data services. That T-Mobile — a large, nationwide carrier with tens of millions of subscribers — is having difficulty negotiating commercially reasonable data roaming rates with “must have” roaming partners in order to offer truly nationwide coverage underscores the difficulties experienced by the great majority of RWA’s carrier-members, who are much smaller and have even less power at the negotiating table. The cost to any carrier, large or small, to produce a megabyte of wireless data traffic is the exact same whether the access is enjoyed by a company’s retail subscriber, a company’s MVNO/wholesale customer, or a company’s domestic roaming partner. Large carriers’ practice of charging unreasonably high data roaming rates causes significant competitive harm to smaller carriers with far less bargaining power than their domestic wireless roaming partners. After years of uncertainty, now is the time for the Commission to address this problem and offer guidance.