May 18, 2011, 10:57 AM — Objecting to what it considers unwarranted government intrusion, Verizon is suing the Federal Communications Commission over recently approved "data roaming" rules.
Passed by a 3-2 FCC vote in April, the data-roaming rules require national carriers such as Verizon and AT&T to allow subscribers of regional wireless providers to roam (if they want to) on their networks.
But Verizon argues that the new rules are unnecessary because the large carriers already have entered into numerous roaming agreements with regional wireless companies.
The FCC rules go a step further, however, essentially prohibiting national carriers from arbitrarily freezing out smaller wireless providers.
In announcing the decision last month, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said:
[R]oaming deals simply are not being widely offered on commercially reasonable terms. On the contrary, the record makes clear that some providers have refused to negotiate 3G or 4G data roaming agreements, have created long delays, or have taken other steps to impede competition.
A broad coalition of rural carriers informed us that their attempts to enter into data roaming negotiations with nationwide providers are “many times rejected out of hand.”
Verizon said at the time that it had cut 40 data roaming deals with regional carriers, adding that the rules would unfairly force it to spend capital on upgrading its wireless infrastructure in order to support competitors who essentially would be getting a free ride.
By mandating roaming agreements, Verizon said in its appeal, the FCC is overstepping its authority.