FCC Mandates New Data Roaming Rules For AT&T And Verizon

The AT&T buying T-Mobile news that broke over two weeks ago worries many folks, who fear the merger eliminates competitive pricing and shuts out smaller carriers. In response to this concern, the FCC today voted 3-2 in favor of forcing large carriers such as AT&T and Verizon to share their data networks with small regional operators at "commercially reasonable terms."

It is already mandatory for large carriers to share their voice networks, but today's announcement will open up their data networks as well. Smaller carriers that do not have their own systems will now be able to demand access for data roaming at lower prices. Should they not be able to reach a "reasonable" roaming agreement with the likes of AT&T and Verizon, small companies can petition the FCC.

You can bet that AT&T and Verizon were fuming about this new ordinance. Verizon responded saying, "Today's action represents a new level of unwarranted government intervention. By forcing carriers that have invested in wireless infrastructure to make those networks available to competitors that avoid this investment, at a price ultimately determined by the FCC, discourages network investment in less profitable areas. That is directly contrary to the interests of rural America and ... it is a defeat for both consumers and the innovation fostered by true competition."

What do you think of this latest development? Should the government have the power to determine what is "reasonable" when it comes to data roaming agreements between the large carriers and the smaller regional operators?

[via Bloomberg]