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AT&T Thinks T-Mobile’s Data Roaming Proposal is Unlawful

July 11, 2014 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Just recently, T-Mobile put together a petition for the FCC with a proposal for data roaming agreements between larger and smaller carriers. While AT&T thinks it’s unlawful and is speaking out. Here’s the gist of T-Mobile’s proposal for the FCC:

“The Commission adopted the data roaming rule because it found that providers require access to data roaming in order to be able to compete, and that an extensive record showed that many were having difficulty obtaining such access on reasonable terms. Despite adoption of the rule, however, real-world industry experience shows that providers continue to be stymied in their efforts to negotiate data roaming agreements on commercially reasonable terms.

These problems are due in large part to certain ambiguities in the “commercially reasonable” standard for data roaming – ambiguities that could not have been foreseen at the time, but which have become apparent with experience. The data roaming marketplace, and the consumers who rely on it for ubiquitous, affordable wireless service, would benefit substantially if the Commission provided greater clarity on the meaning of its “commercially reasonable” standard in the context of data roaming.”

Basically, T-Mobile thinks that because there is no boundaries to work with here, that some carriers are overcharging for roaming fees. Which I’m sure most customers would agree with. As roaming rates are pretty high for most of the carriers here. And now AT&T is lobbying against this, similar to what they did when the proposal to change the laws for the upcoming spectrum auction, which the FCC did make it easier for the smaller carriers, i.e. Sprint and T-Mobile. Today, AT&T’s Joan Marsh, who is their VP of Regulatory, put out a blog post about T-Mobile’s proposal. She stated how it violates the telecommunications act:

There is no justification for granting T-Mobile’s petition –  in fact, according to T-Mobile’s own economist, wholesale roaming rates have trended “downward strongly” in recent years, and the average wholesale roaming rates paid by T-Mobile have fallen nearly 70 percent since 2011 and continue to decline. “

It’ll be interesting to see how this entire thing plays out over the next few months, but I’m hoping that the FCC sides with T-Mobile. And that has nothing to do with me being a T-Mobile subscriber, but the fact that roaming rates are crazy already, we don’t need them to go any higher. If anything they need to be dropped a bit in price.