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FCC Imposes New Wireless Roaming Rules
Carriers Must Provide Nationwide Roaming on 'Reasonable' Terms
by Karl Bode 11:19AM Friday Apr 08 2011
In addition to starting to refine signal booster rules, the FCC yesterday also announced (pdf) modified pole attachment rules, a move the FCC says will reduce costs for attaching broadband lines and wireless antennas to utility poles across the country. According to FCC data, pole attachments comprise roughly 20 percent of the total cost of deploying fiber-optic cable. The FCC notes there's roughly 134 million poles in the country, with phone and cable companies paying between $5 and $20 per foot of pole real estate every year.

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While large carriers might have liked the FCC rule changes on pole attachments, they weren't as pleased with the FCC yesterday approving new mandatory wireless roaming rules (pdf).

According to the FCC, the new rules require that carriers must provide consumers access to data roaming on "commercially reasonable" terms and conditions. While this is a move that pleased Tier 2 and Tier 3 providers, companies like Verizon were of course annoyed by the rules.

"By forcing carriers that have invested in wireless infrastructure to make those networks available to competitors that avoid this investment, at a price ultimately determined by the FCC, today's order discourages network investment in less profitable areas," Verizon said in a statement. "That is directly contrary to the interests of rural America and the development of facilities-based competition and potential job creation," says the company. "Therefore, it is a defeat for both consumers and the innovation fostered by true competition."

Verizon's pouring it on a little thick. As a dominant player in the space Verizon's position is of course relative, with smaller carriers arguing for years that egregious roaming rates imposed by dominant carriers (if small carriers are allowed to connect at all) is one of the many ways Verizon works to ensure there's limited competition.

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