The FCC acted today (Aprill 7, 2011) 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. This promotes connectivity and nationwide access to mobile data services such as e-mail and wireless broadband Internet access.
The rule the FCC adopted today promotes investment in and deployment of mobile broadband networks, consistent with the recommendations of the National Broadband Plan. This new investment in broadband will increase competition and benefit consumers; without data roaming guarantees, consumers will be limited in their choices, especially in rural areas.
To resolve any data roaming disputes, parties may file a petition for declaratory ruling under Section 1.2 of the Commission’s rules or file a formal or informal complaint depending on the circumstances specific to each dispute. Disputes would be resolved on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration the unique facts and circumstances in each instance. Commission staff may require both parties to provide their best and final offers.
The Commission implemented a data roaming obligation pursuant to its authority under Title III of the Communications Act, which provides the Commission with authority to manage spectrum and establish and modify license and spectrum usage conditions in the public interest.
Action by the Commission April 7, 2011, by Second Report and Order (FCC 11-52). Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Copps and Clyburn with Commissioners McDowell and Baker dissenting. Separate Statements issued by Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn and Baker. FCC No. 11-52.