Court slaps down Verizon, upholds FCC data roaming rule

Carriers can like it or lump it


A US federal appeals court has unanimously upheld a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule that required wireless carriers to offer roaming data service at "reasonable" rates, rejecting a challenge by leading mobile telco Verizon Wireless.

The FCC has long required carriers to offer roaming for voice calls, which allows customers to use dial from other carriers' mobile networks when they are away from their own carrier's service area, but in April 2011 it expanded the rule to include data service.

That move drew the ire of Verizon, which filed suit to block the amended rule a month later, describing it as "unwarranted government intervention" and claiming the FCC lacked the authority to impose such a restriction on carriers.

On Tuesday, the appeals court rejected that argument, with three judges affirming the FCC's authority to issue the rule in a unanimous decision.

In a statement emailed to Reuters, Verizon spokesman Ed McFadden explained that the carrier felt the ruling was unnecessary and that Verizon was perfectly capable of negotiating data roaming agreements on its own.

"As we made clear throughout the case, Verizon Wireless regularly enters into ... data roaming agreements on commercially reasonable terms to meet the needs of consumers, and will continue to do so," McFadden said.

Joining Verizon in opposing the rule was AT&T, the second-largest US carrier. Between the two of them, AT&T and Verizon control around 65 per cent of the US wireless market.

But smaller carriers tended to support the data roaming rule, particularly those serving far-flung rural areas. In November, the Rural Telecommunications Group and the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association sent a joint letter to the FCC urging stricter enforcement of the rule, citing what they described as "anticompetitive behavior at the hands of AT&T and/or Verizon Wireless."

According to the letter, some rural carriers have been forced to wait more than eight months to receive a proposal for a data-roaming rate from the Big Two carriers, and in many cases the rate offered ends up being "many orders of magnitude higher" than that offered to the carriers' own customers.

For its part, the FCC says it welcomes the court's decision and that it will continue to take actions that it feels will help to "promote broadband investment and innovation."

As for Verizon's ongoing objections to the rule, the court was clearly not impressed.

"Verizon may choose not to provide mobile-Internet service," Judge David Tatel wrote in the unanimous decision. "The data roaming rule merely defines the form mobile-Internet service must take for those who seek a license to offer it." ®

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • FCC: Applications for funds to replace Chinese comms kit lack evidence
    Well you told us to rip and ... hang on, we're not getting any money?

    The saga of the US government's plan to rip and replace China-made communications kit from the country's networks has a new twist: following reports that applications for funding far outstripped the cash set aside, it appears two-thirds of such applications lack adequate cost estimates or sufficient supporting evidence.

    The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) informed Congress that it had found deficiencies in 122 of the 181 of the applications filed with it by US carriers for funding to reimburse them for replacing telecoms equipment sourced from Chinese companies.

    The FCC voted nearly a year ago to reimburse medium and small carriers in the US for removing and replacing all network equipment provided by companies such as Huawei and ZTE. The telecoms operators were required to do this in the interests of national security under the terms of the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act.

    Continue reading
  • SpaceX: 5G expansion could kill US Starlink broadband
    It would be easier to take this complaint seriously if Elon wasn't so Elon

    If the proposed addition of the 12GHz spectrum to 5G goes forward, Starlink broadband terminals across America could be crippled, or so SpaceX has complained. 

    The Elon Musk biz made the claim [PDF] this week in a filing to the FCC, which is considering allowing Dish to operate a 5G service in the 12GHz band (12.2-12.7GHz). This frequency range is also used by Starlink and others to provide over-the-air satellite internet connectivity.

    SpaceX said its own in-house study, conducted in Las Vegas, showed "harmful interference from terrestrial mobile service to SpaceX's Starlink terminals … more than 77 percent of the time, resulting in full outages 74 percent of the time." It also claimed the interference will extend to a minimum of 13 miles from base stations. In other words, if Dish gets to use these frequencies in the US, it'll render nearby Starlink terminals useless through wireless interference, it was claimed.

    Continue reading
  • EnemyBot malware adds enterprise flaws to exploit arsenal
    Fast-evolving botnet targets critical VMware, F5 BIG-IP bugs, we're told

    The botnet malware EnemyBot has added exploits to its arsenal, allowing it to infect and spread from enterprise-grade gear.

    What's worse, EnemyBot's core source code, minus its exploits, can be found on GitHub, so any miscreant can use the malware to start crafting their own outbreaks of this software nasty.

    The group behind EnemyBot is Keksec, a collection of experienced developers, also known as Nero and Freakout, that have been around since 2016 and have launched a number of Linux- and Windows-based bots capable of launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and possibly mining cryptocurrency. Securonix first wrote about EnemyBot in March.

    Continue reading
  • Verizon expands network-as-a-service with VMware SD-WAN
    If enterprise apps are going into the cloud, someone needs to provide the extra plumbing

    MWC Verizon Business is adding VMware's software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) offering to a lineup of managed services, the latest move by a major carrier to address the demand for more streamlined networking and security capabilities by increasingly distributed and cloud-centric enterprises.

    Verizon made the announcement this week at the Mobile World Conference event in Barcelona, giving the telco another service that organizations can use as data and applications continue to move out of centralized data centers and into the cloud and network edge.

    The partnership with VMware – Verizon has similar tie-ups with the likes of Cisco Systems, Fortinet, and Versa Networks – comes as the SD-WAN space expands rapidly and the technology plays a foundational role in the emerging secure access service edge (SASE) space, which essentially combines SD-WAN and hybrid connectivity with a range of network security functions, including zero-trust network access (ZTNA),  secure web gateways, cloud access security brokers (CASBs) and firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS) delivered as a cloud service.

    Continue reading
  • Ericsson report details how it paid off Islamic State
    Staff sacked after bosses discovered terrorists received money for access to Iraq mobile market

    A leaked internal report details how Ericsson paid hundreds of millions of pounds to Islamic State terrorists in Iraq, substantiating earlier reports that the company was paying intermediaries to buy off ISIS on its behalf.

    The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed over the weekend that the leaked report, which reviews the years 2011 to 2019, included names and precise details of how money from the company found its way to terrorists.

    Rather than halting operations in Iraq as Islamic State ravaged the country, some personnel within Ericsson instead bribed "politically connected fixers and unvetted subcontractors", the ICIJ said, while the Swedish biz continued building potentially lucrative mobile networks.

    Continue reading
  • US carriers want to junk three times more Chinese comms kit than planned
    FCC budget to rip and replace Huawei and ZTE kit was $1.9B. It received $5.6B of applications

    The United States Federal Communications Commission has revealed that carriers have applied for $5.6 billion in funding to rip and replace China-made communications kit.

    The applications were made under the Secure And Trusted Communications Reimbursement Program, which offers to reimburse carriers with under ten million subscribers to ditch kit from Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE. The FCC and Congress want them to do so because the USA fears made-in-China comms kit contains backdoors that Beijing could exploit to either eavesdrop on communications or cut them off entirely.

    Replacing made-in-China products with kit designed by American firms is supposed to be a route to improved national security.

    Continue reading
  • Microsoft pushes ahead adapting Azure for 5G telecoms after swallowing AT&T's Network Cloud
    But is the telco backing itself into a corner?

    Analysis Microsoft has given more info on its efforts to draw telcos to its Azure cloud platform, building on intellectual property and skills gained from last year's partnership with AT&T, under which the telco opted to move its core 5G network operations to Azure.

    Microsoft announced Azure for Operators in 2020, saying it was adding capabilities to its cloud to support carrier-grade network operations such as low-latency connectivity and network slicing. The idea was that telcos would be able to take advantage of the elastic capabilities of the cloud and reduce the need to invest so much capital expenditure in new infrastructure for their 5G rollouts, in much the same way that enterprise customers have adopted the technology.

    This clearly appealed to AT&T, because in June last year it announced it was not only moving its 5G mobile network to Azure, but also providing Microsoft access to its IP and technical expertise. This included handing over the Network Cloud platform it had developed to operate its 5G services to the Windows giant, along with any of the engineering team willing to transfer to Redmond.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022