Hill Dems Praise FCC Roaming Rule Victory

A D.C. Federal Appeals court was getting praise from top Capitol
Hill Democrats on Tuesday over its decision rejecting a Verizon challenge to
the FCC's data roaming rules.

Those rules require wireless companies to offer data roaming
agreements to competitors on reasonable terms, just as the FCC requires voice
roaming deals on reasonable terms.

Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Energy and
Commerce Committee, called it a victory for consumers and an example of the FCC
doing the job Congress asked it to do.

"Congress has tasked the FCC with protecting consumers and
promoting competition in the 21st century communications marketplace -- and
requiring reasonable terms for data roaming does just that," said Waxman. "We
expect to be able to use our mobile broadband devices anytime and anywhere and
regional wireless providers simply can't compete without offering nationwide
service. Today's decision from the D.C. Circuit is a victory for the
American consumer's ability to access the wonders of mobile technology, no
matter what wireless carrier they choose."

That sentiment was echoed by Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking
member of the Communications Subcommittee Eshoo, who personally called on the
commission to adopt data roaming rules in a
March 2011 letter,
said she welcomed the decision. "These rules
promote competition and the seamless availability of wireless services
consumers have come to expect. Such rules are particularly important for
smaller wireless carriers that often have little choice for roaming partners
other than their largest rivals."

"I applaud this important court decision to protect
consumers from racking up exorbitant data charges when roaming outside of their
own carrier's network," said Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), a member of the
subcommittee. "This decision emphasizes the importance of keeping competitive
wireless carriers strong, and it is going to make it much easier for many
consumers to use their mobile devices while they're traveling or commuting. All
wireless carriers must be able to offer data services at comparative speeds to
other wireless providers in order to stay competitive, given how important
mobile services have been in today's economy. I was glad to see Chairman Genachowski's
leadership in implementing the FCC's rules in 2011, and I am glad to see the
FCC's authority to protect wireless subscribers reaffirmed today."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.