The FCC acted today to promote increased consumer access to nationwide mobile broadband service by adopting an Order that requires facilities-based providers of commercial mobile data services to offer data roaming arrangements to other such providers on commercially reasonable terms and conditions, subject to certain limitations.
Consumers expect mobile data services that will allow them to remain connected wherever they go; a data roaming rule will help ensure that consumers? services are not interrupted and that coverage is available
on a competitive basis. The widespread availability of data roaming arrangements will allow consumers with mobile data plans to
remain connected when they travel outside their own provider?s network coverage areas by using another provider?s network.
Existing voice roaming rules already allow regional competitors to use the big carriers' networks for phone calls outside of their own service territories. But smaller wireless providers say they need to be able to offer nationwide data service too to compete.
The new rules are a response to consolidation in an industry dominated by two nationwide carriers: AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless.