Mobile Future

FCC Reverses Course on Roaming Rules to the Detriment of Consumers, Investment and Innovation

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission released a Declaratory Ruling effectively revising its rules on data roaming.  The guidance comes from the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, which is changing the rules on delegated authority without giving the full Commission the opportunity to weigh in on the changes.

Previously, the rules tried to strike a balance between keeping rates fair and encouraging investment.  Today’s ruling goes back on these policy goals and effectively establishes rate regulation of roaming services.  As a result, carriers have little incentive to innovate and are now actively discouraged from future investment in network infrastructure – to the detriment of consumers who rely on mobile broadband.

From coast to coast, we see significant investment by some companies to build out advanced wireless networks and their customers are seeing clear benefits.  The Wireless Bureau’s decision to help one multi-billion dollar corporation over millions of American consumers in more remote parts of the country, despite strong downward trends in roaming rates over the past few years, is an unfortunate step backwards.

To read the FCC’s Declaratory Ruling, click here.