FCC adopts rules to drive wireless competition

Apr 07, 2011 By JOELLE TESSLER , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- Federal regulators adopted rules Thursday to drive more competition in wireless broadband as more people access the Internet using iPhones and other popular mobile devices.

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 on Thursday to require big wireless carriers to open their data networks to smaller regional operators in places where they don't have their own systems. The large carriers have to offer network access at reasonable prices, and the FCC would resolve any disputes.

The so-called "data roaming" rules are a response to consolidation in an industry dominated by two nationwide carriers, AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless. And they come just weeks after AT&T, the nation's second-largest wireless company, announced plans to buy T-Mobile USA, the fourth-largest, in a $39 billion cash-and-stock deal.

Existing voice roaming rules already allow regional competitors to use the big carriers' networks to handle phone calls outside their own service territories. That enables Leap Wireless, for instance, to offer nationwide calling service. It pays other carriers for access to their systems when customers make calls outside Leap's service area.

But smaller wireless providers say they need to be able to be able to do that with data, too, as subscribers increasingly use smartphones not just to make phone calls but to send pictures, watch online video and access bandwidth-hungry mobile applications.

"Consumers ... expect to use their mobile phones throughout the nation for voice calls or data - like email or mobile apps," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat.

Parul Desai, policy counsel for the consumer watchdog group Consumers Union, said the new rules should help lower prices by giving consumers more choices for nationwide data services.

Steven Berry, president and chief executive of the Rural Cellular Association, added that the rules should make it easier for rural carriers to grow by ensuring that they can get the nationwide data roaming agreements they need to attract customers and funding for their networks.

"In this day and age, consumer expectations are that their devices work anytime, anyplace, anywhere," Berry said. "What consumer would buy a phone that only works in one small regional area?"

The FCC's three Democrats voted to adopt the data-roaming rules over the opposition of the agency's two Republicans. Republican Robert McDowell said he believes the agency lacks the legal authority to impose such requirements on the wireless industry.

AT&T and Verizon warned that they will have less incentive to invest in their high-speed wireless networks if they have to share them with competitors at regulated rates. In a statement, Verizon said the rules represent "a new level of unwarranted government intervention."

But Sprint Nextel Corp., the nation's third largest wireless carrier, and Leap Wireless, parent of the smaller Cricket phone service, welcomed the rules.

Explore further: Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Government report: 4 cos. control wireless market

Aug 26, 2010

(AP) -- Consolidation over the past decade has left just four big carriers in control of 90 percent of the wireless market, making it harder for small and regional companies to compete, according to a government report released ...

LightSquared cleared to offer wireless broadband

Jan 26, 2011

(AP) -- Federal regulators have given a satellite start-up called LightSquared clearance to use its allotted airwaves to provide wireless broadband services that could compete with AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

FCC inquiries could spawn new wireless regulations

Aug 27, 2009

(AP) -- The Federal Communications Commission is taking a closer look at the practices of the wireless industry, potentially the first step toward more regulations intended to push down prices and increase choices for consumers.

Leap adds free nationwide roaming to Cricket

Mar 23, 2010

(AP) -- Leap Wireless International Inc. said Tuesday that it's eliminating most roaming fees for its Cricket contract-free wireless service, continuing a series of price cuts and service enhancements in the growing and ...

Regulators seek to avoid surprises on cell bills

May 11, 2010

(AP) -- Federal regulators are considering rules that would require wireless phone companies to alert consumers before they reach roaming or data usage limits on their wireless plans.

Recommended for you

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

7 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

14 hours ago

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

16 hours ago

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

Dish Network denies wrongdoing in $2M settlement

Apr 15, 2014

The state attorney general's office says Dish Network Corp. will reimburse Washington state customers about $2 million for what it calls a deceptive surcharge, but the satellite TV provider denies any wrongdoing.

Netflix's Comcast deal improves quality of video

Apr 14, 2014

Netflix's videos are streaming through Comcast's Internet service at their highest speeds in the past 17 months now that Netflix is paying for a more direct connection to Comcast's network.

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Apr 07, 2011
We don't need more competition, fools, we need more cooperation.

If everyone was to share technologies, and if not for patents restricting the ability to combine existing technologies, computers would be far more advanced than they are today. Why compete? Cooperate.
dan42day
not rated yet Apr 07, 2011
One only has to look at the explosion of telecommunication advances and features at affordable prices that came about after the dismantling of the AT&T phone monopoly to understand why competition is essential.
Skultch
not rated yet Apr 17, 2011
Cooperate.


Hippy! ;) jk

More news stories

Freight train industry to miss safety deadline

The U.S. freight railroad industry says only one-fifth of its track will be equipped with mandatory safety technology to prevent most collisions and derailments by the deadline set by Congress.

Microsoft CEO is driving data-culture mindset

(Phys.org) —Microsoft's future strategy: is all about leveraging data, from different sources, coming together using one cohesive Microsoft architecture. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday, both in ...

IBM posts lower 1Q earnings amid hardware slump

IBM's first-quarter earnings fell and revenue came in below Wall Street's expectations amid an ongoing decline in its hardware business, one that was exasperated by weaker demand in China and emerging markets.

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

The Ebola virus that has killed scores of people in Guinea this year is a new strain—evidence that the disease did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations, scientists report.